| WASHINGTON, July 15
WASHINGTON, July 15 The United States must
decide soon whether to overturn its nearly 40-year ban on oil
exports or it risks inhibiting output from the domestic drilling
boom, the executive director of the International Energy Agency
said on Tuesday.
"Do you want to be an energy island that is fenced in or do
you want to be a huge (oil) producer at the same time as being a
huge consumer?" Maria van der Hoeven told Reuters in a
wide-ranging interview about energy policy.
"As far as I know, the United States was always in favor of
an open market," said van der Hoeven, whose 29-member agency
produces energy statistics and advises developed and emerging
economies on energy security issues.
Washington took a step toward opening up oil exports last
month when the Commerce Department told two Texas energy
companies they could export a light crude called condensate if
it has been minimally processed.
The IEA had anticipated the Commerce Department's move in a
recent energy outlook report, as a glut of the light crude oil
has built up in the U.S. Gulf due to the domestic energy boom.
Van der Hoeven, who is based in Paris, wrote in a 2013
Financial Times opinion piece that the United States would have
to find export outlets to reach its full oil revolution
IEA oil market analyst Antoine Halff, who was with van der
Hoeven in Washington, said the Commerce Department's move
confirmed her 2013 piece.
"What is happening is that condensate production is so high
... it's putting some pressure on the system to let some liquids
out," said Halff.
Van der Hoeven said Asia and Latin America are so thirsty
for condensates for production of both petrochemical products
and motor fuel that it could be 20 or 30 years before there is
too much in the global market.
U.S. oil production could be hindered if Washington does not
take more steps to reverse the decades-old ban, she added. But
it is not the IEA's role to dictate policy.
"It's our work to raise issues. And ask questions and also
urge countries to think about these issues because they have to
find an answer," she said. "What I do think is important is we
flag issues on energy security and (the U.S. crude ban) is one,"
Van der Hoeven praised an agreement last week between the
United States and China to cooperate on strategic petroleum
reserves, the first such effort between the world's top energy
"Our statisticians were quite excited about this arrangement
because it could be a decisive step in the right direction," she
said. The IEA has been working with China and other non-IEA
members like India and Brazil to improve transparency on how
much energy they are using and producing.
"There is clearly an awareness in China that providing data
is something that not only the market at large needs, but that
they stand to gain by being more transparent," Halff said.
(Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Ayesha Rascoe and
Patrick Rucker; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)