U.S. allows export of some oil, loosening four-decade ban

The U.S. Department of Commerce has relaxed, somewhat, the nation’s four-decade-long ban on oil exports, put in place after the 1973 oil crisis that caused widespread shortages around the United States.

The Obama administration’s move will allow the sale of up to 1 million barrels a day of ultra-light crude. The decision likely will please U.S. drillers and many politicians who have said the U.S. export ban is a relic of an outdated policy.

Reuters reported specifics:

The latest measures were wrapped in regulatory jargon and couched by some as a basic clarification of existing rules, but analysts said the message was unambiguous: a green light for any company willing and able to process their light condensate crude through a distillation tower, a simple piece of oilfield kit.

“In practice this long-awaited move can open up the floodgates to substantial increases in exports by end 2015,” Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York said in a research note.

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