U.S. ‘Actively Looking’ at Issues Informing Oil Exports

The U.S. is “actively looking” at issues that would inform its oil export policy and rules governing releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said.

“The international energy markets clearly look very, very different from what they looked like in 1975,” Moniz, 69, said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York today. “It’s worth a re-examination.”

With U.S. natural gas production at a record and oil and liquids output poised to surpass Russia this year, the Obama administration has been called upon to increase exports. Proponents say sending more energy overseas would help expand U.S. influence, while opponents want to ensure domestic businesses have access to cheap fuel.

Crude exports surged to a near-record after the Commerce Department in June expanded its definition of oil that can qualify for foreign sale. Such sales have been limited under a 1975 law in the wake of the Arab oil embargo.

“There has been no policy change in terms of crude oil exports,” Moniz said. “We are actively looking at the issues of the changed production profile, the changed nature of the oil being produced, the refinery situation, etc. There is consideration of that going on. If there are new policies called for, those will be considered.”

Moniz, a former physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took over as head of the Energy Department in May 2013. The department has 13,640 workers and 94,302 contract employees and is asking Congress for $27.9 billion to spend during the 2015 fiscal year.

Among the questions for the administration is the use of the strategic reserve, he said. “Are the rules of the petroleum reserve, for example, today the ones we should have in a very different oil market and certainly a very different oil production profile for the United States?” he asked.

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