Republican News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today released a report demonstrating that the Department of Commerce retains the power to modernize its regulations and allow condensate exports.

The report contains more than 40 pages of Commerce Department decisions from the 1970s and 1980s on expanded exports of residual fuel oil, petroleum coke, butane, specialty naphtha, and other petroleum-related products.

The de-facto prohibition on crude oil exports extends to condensates, which are very light hydrocarbons found in unconventional plays. This is a direct result of the definition of “crude oil” that was inserted into the regulations in 1985.

The report – License to Trade: Commerce Department Authority to Allow Condensate Exports – is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website. The examples it cites point to the department’s authority to allow condensate exports by, for example, updating the 30-year-old definition of crude oil.

  • Facing an oversupply of butane in 1978, the Commerce Department determined that consumer access would not be impacted by expanded exports of butane. The same year, it also authorized a temporary program to export residual fuel oil from California in response to the threat of shut-in crude oil production in that state.
  • From 1977 to 1979, the Commerce Department streamlined the export of petroleum coke after determining that domestic supplies were abundant.
  • In 1981, the Commerce Department found that expanded exports of specialty petroleum naphtha would be in the national interest. Decisions affecting other petroleum-related products were also issued during this period.

Murkowski, the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will testify today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Proliferation, and Trade at 2 p.m. EST. The stated aim of the hearing is to evaluate U.S. energy trade policy, crude specifically.

Murkowski’s House appearance follows the unveiling of her “roadmap” at CERA Week in March and her white paper on energy exports – A Signal to the World: Renovating the Architecture of U.S. Energy Exports – released in January. 

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