The question of whether or not to lift bans on crude oil exports is under review by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in January, 2014. According to Christopher Helman of forbes.com, business leaders and industry analysts from both sides of the issue presented the pros and cons of lifting the ban.
During the Senate hearing, Harold Hamm, billionaire founder and CEO of Continental Resources, one of the largest producers in the Bakken, argued vigorously in favor of lifting the ban. According to Helman, during his testimony, Hamm, explained that contrary to popular belief, U.S. oil is being exported; but as refined fuels, not crude oil.
T. Boone Pickens, one of the most vocal supporters of natural gas in the United States, recently expressed his opinion:
The U.S. should reduce its dependence on foreign oil, especially from the Middle East, rather than remove bans of the export of crude oil.
The United States currently consumes about 18 million barrels a day of oil and produces about 8 million barrels. We import approximately 4.5 million barrels a day from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. OPEC member countries include Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, as well as Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Gabon, and Angola, many of whom The United States has had strained relationships in recent years.
Speaking at the World LNG Fuels 2014 conference in Houston, Pickens said, “I’m not too keen on exporting when we are importing nine to ten million barrels a day.” As reported by Emily Pickrell on FuelFix, Pickens stated that it would be better for the United States, to reduce its imports from these countries, than to export crude oil that has created some issues of national security. “When you are buying from OPEC, some of that money gets in the hands of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” he said.
Many oil industry leaders and several U.S. politicians, including Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are pressuring the administration to open crude oil up to exports. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. daily crude production will slow next year for the first time since the nation’s shale oil boom began three years ago. Data from the EIA shows Canada exports more than 2.4 million barrels per day, making it this country’s largest supplier, while Mexico currently exports a little less than one million barrels a day to the United States.
T. Boone Pickens disagrees. In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box and Fox Business, T. Boone Pickens encouraged greater use of natural gas for trucks instead, and increased oil trade with Canada and Mexico — countries he considers more reliable partners than many of those in OPEC. “We import four million barrels a day of OPEC crude. Cut 75 percent of it out with six million trucks,” he said.
Pickens supports trade between the United States and Canada and Mexico, saying, “I think you want to keep Canada and Mexico tied to you, you can use their oil and they need your markets.”
Pickens was less supportive of continued trade with Venezuela, which is the fourth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States.
“I’d like to cut those birds loose,” he said, expressing great disdain at the fact the United States continues to fulfill some of its energy needs from countries with which it has uneven political relationships.
Pickens was also critical of President Barack Obama’s knowledge of the industry, and complained that Obama has cited hydraulic fracturing as having been around for only around 30 years. Pickens pointed out that he has been working on hydraulic fracturing projects since the 1950s. “You won’t believe this, but he was totally inaccurate,” Pickens said. “I heard him say that the Department of Energy had developed fracking, due to their research 30 years ago. That’s about how accurate this guy is.”
The heated debate over lifting the ban on crude oil exports continues—as does the discussion over methods of reducing dependence on foreign oil and whether the United States will be able to achieve energy independence.