July 14, 2014

When it comes to oil exports, all our fears are old fears

By Peter Gardett

Are you still driving a Pinto? Smoking in the office and wearing polyester bellbottoms? Probably not, because we don’t live in the 1970s any more. So why does our oil export policy remain stuck in a decades-old limbo, as an antique from the Nixon era?

Change has come fast to the energy sector in the past ten years as the full scale of growth stemming from technology and market changes has surfaced. The US is now poised to resume its role as the world’s largest oil producer, prompting widespread reassessments of economic and geopolitical forecasts for everything from trade flows and deficits to defense alignments.

Oil companies in the US can move refined products overseas, but because of the 70s era ban they remain unable to export crude oil except from Alaska. This contradictory situation, which has underwritten refinery profits by trapping crude supply in the US even as products are shipped, now threatens to limit benefits to the US economy as refineries run out of capacity to run that cheap oil through their systems. As a recent IHS Economics analysis of the US crude oil export decision amply demonstrates, trapping that oil in the US behind the walls of a refinery system that has spent three decades retooling for entirely different kinds of crude could literally cost the US trillions of dollars, and as many as a million jobs.

The oil export ban is a vestige of a panic-induced policy response to market interruptions in the 1970s, and is no longer a viable approach to the realities of the US oil sector.

Read the full op-ed at Inside Sources.

  • Commentary
    • National Interest
    • June 9, 2021
    Why Biden Should Extend Vaccine Diplomacy to Sanctioned States Like Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea

    Extending vaccine diplomacy to heavily sanctioned countries will allow Washington to both hedge against growing Chinese-Russian influence abroad and help alleviate global huma...

    By Jason Bartlett

  • Commentary
    • DecipherGrey
    • May 26, 2021
    How Meeting North Korean Defectors Changed My Life

    All I brought to Korea was genuine curiosity and a humble interest to learn, and I was met with kindness from the most unlikely of people....

    By Jason Bartlett

  • Podcast
    • May 21, 2021
    Analyzing Biden's New Approach to Sanctions

    Sanctions are becoming an increasingly important part of the Biden administration's foreign policy toolkit. Carnegie Council Senior Fellows Nick Gvosdev and Tatiana Serafin di...

    By Rachel Ziemba

  • Reports
    • May 4, 2021
    Sanctions by the Numbers

    Cyberattacks pose a serious threat to U.S. national security and the integrity of the global commerce and financial system, especially when state-sponsored actors conduct and/...

    By Jason Bartlett & Megan Ophel

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia