The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to release a report in late October that will help assess whether domestic gasoline prices would rise if Congress or the Obama administration lifted the 40-year ban on crude oil exports.
The report by the Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the DOE, is highly anticipated by analysts and politicians because recent reports from think tanks on lifting the ban have been funded at least indirectly by energy companies and others that have a stake in the debate on reversing the trade restriction.
Congress mandated the oil export ban following the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which sent shock waves through energy markets and helped raise fears of shortages.
After the Nov. 4 U.S. elections, many analysts expect both the White House and Congress to mull options for relaxing the ban, although a full reversal is not expected this year or next.
EIA chief Adam Sieminski has hinted at what the report might say, telling Platts Energy Week that “exports might not have that much of an impact on gasoline,” he said.
A March report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service said the effect on fuel prices could be mixed and differ by region, but did not give specific predictions on gasoline prices.
The following are summaries of major reports on effects of lifting the export ban, all concluding that gasoline prices would fall.
Resources for the Future, a nonprofit energy and environment research group, concluded early in 2014 that U.S. gasoline prices would fall by about 2 to 7 cents a gallon if exports were allowed. The report, “Crude Behavior: How Lifting the Export Ban Reduces Gasoline Prices in the United States,” concluded that lifting the ban would help global refiners process the type of oil they are configured for, which could help lower prices here and abroad.
But the report, which can be seen here bit.ly/1vw9btv , concluded that lifting the ban could have side effects, including a potential rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
The RFF report was supported by general funds at the group from a mix of foundations and companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips.
On March 31 a report by consultants ICF International and EnSys Energy concluded gasoline prices would fall as much as 2.3 cents a gallon, and that consumers could save up to $5.8 billion per year from 2015 to 2035. The report, paid for by the American Petroleum Institute, the energy lobbyist group, can be seen here bit.ly/1vXE22k .
On May 29, an IHS report, “U.S. Crude Oil Export Decision: Assessing the Impact of the Export Ban and Free Trade on the U.S. Economy,” said gasoline prices could fall 8 to 12 cents per gallon if the ban were lifted, saving U.S. consumers some $265 billion between 2016 and 2030.
The report was funded by energy companies including Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron. It can be seen here www.ihs.com/crudeoilexport .
A Sept. 9 report by Brookings and NERA Economic Consulting, “Changing Markets: Economic Opportunities from Lifting the U.S. Ban on Crude Oil Exports,” said gasoline prices could fall about 9 cents a gallon for about five years and the drop could hit 12 cents if U.S. crude supplies are larger than predicted.
The report, supported with general funds at Brookings from a wide range of donors and companies, can be seen here bit.ly/1sbTzbZ .
On Oct. 14 the Aspen Institute and the MAPI Foundation, the research group of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, issued a report that said gasoline prices could fall between 3 and 5 cents a gallon by 2016, and between 8 and 9 cents by 2025.
The report, called "Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban: The Impact on U.S. Manufacturing," can be seen here bit.ly/1x0GdPJ .
On Oct. 20, a U.S. Government Accountability Office report reviewed four studies and concluded that consumers could save on gasoline bills if the ban was lifted, though such a move could raise environmental risks. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington; editing by Chris Reese and Matthew Lewis)