It’s been 40 years since certain crude, unprocessed oil has left U.S. soil bound for other nations outside of Canada, but since a ban on such exports was lifted on Dec. 18, oil and cargo companies have been clamoring to take advantage.
ConocoPhillips and NuStar Energy announced Wednesday that a batch of Eagle Ford-produced light crude oil would be loaded and ready today for shipment from NuStar’s Corpus Christi dock. Vitol Group, a Dutch energy trading and oil refinery company, is purchasing the crude oil, according to NuStar.
“Based on our investments in Corpus Christi and our South Texas pipeline system, NuStar was well-positioned, equipped and staffed to immediately begin loading cargoes for export,” stated NuStar President and CEO Brad Barron in a news release. “And we plan on further expanding our Corpus Christi operations to provide more options to our customers to move Eagle Ford Shale crude oil, whether it is being moved domestically or internationally. In fact, we are currently in the process of developing a second private dock in the Port of Corpus Christi.”
Enterprise Products Partners was poised to be the first to export out of the U.S. after the ban, but its first shipment is scheduled for the first week of January.
The export ban was lifted after pressure from Republican representatives and industry lobbyists as part of a compromise to get several other Democratic legislators’ items included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month.
“Lifting the ban will have an immediate impact on all Texans,” stated U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), one of the chief advocates for the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed by Pres. Obama on Dec. 18. “As rig counts have been down, we must keep the energy boom alive. At a time of global unrest, energy security is one of the surest ways to maintain and grow our influence in volatile areas around the world. Today, the American people won and with US crude on the world market, the world is a better place.”
The ban was put in place after the 1970s oil embargo and crisis as a way to keep the U.S. out of the highly volatile international oil market, instead keeping as much crude oil at home to limit reliance on oil imports.
With U.S. oil and gas production improved by new technologies, some Republicans and industry leaders said the time had come for U.S. refiners to resume exports. Many Democrats and the Obama administration have said they would rather see greater investment in renewables.
“This spending package lifts the longstanding crude oil export ban and gives the oil industry yet another permanent windfall while the wind and solar industries are left with tax breaks that will phase out and then be gone,” stated Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass). This spending bill hamstrings our clean energy future to protect our dirty energy past. It will be consumers in Massachusetts and across the country who pay the price, literally, for decades to come.”
*Top image: A ConocoPhillips drilling rig in Eagle Ford. Photo courtesy of ConocoPhillips.