American crude and the international benchmark, Brent crude, met at the same price point Tuesday: about $46. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, briefly traded below Brent, the first time that’s happened in a year and a half.
Brent closed down 84 cents, to $46.59 a barrel. U.S. crude closed down 18 cents to $45.19. Read more in the Reuters story.
On average, Brent traded at $6.64 higher than WTI last year.
Bloomberg offers a reason why U.S. crude might be on the upswing: The news agency reports that the United States might be edging closer to relaxing the ban on oil exports.
The 40-year-old ban on most U.S. crude exports is set to be loosened after Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, asked to import 100,000 barrels a day of light crude. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, plans to propose an amendment to a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline that would lift the export restrictions.
“WTI is relatively strong because it looks like exports will be rising,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts, said by phone. “The Mexican request could be the first of many.”
Cruz must know something the rest of Washington doesn’t yet know, since President Obama already has promised to veto the Keystone XL bill if Congress passes it.