Energy & Environment

Commerce Department Creaks Open Door To Exports Of Crude Oil

Houston-based Enterprise Products has won a narrow exemption from the export ban.

Houston-based Enterprise Products this week became one of two companies to receive federal permits to ship unrefined oil overseas.

Industry watchers are hailing the move as a first step in loosening a decades-old ban on crude oil exports.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued permits both to Enterprise and to Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources. The permits will allow the two companies to export a form of oil known as “condensate,” produced from the Eagle Ford Shale.

“This is not a large volume part of the market,” says Kurt Barrow, a vice president with energy consulting firm IHS. “But it’s the quality of oil that’s the most challenging for the U.S. refining system to process at this point, because it is a very light oil, and that part of our refining system that processes that type of oil is already full.”

Much of the U.S. refining infrastructure, particularly along the Gulf Coast, is designed to process heavier grades of crude.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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