Why Lifting the Oil Export Ban Won't Kill Cheap Gas

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Commerce Department's approval in June for Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) to export condensates lifted investors' hopes that this signaled a shift to end the U.S. oil export ban.

The decision received praise from advocates to end the ban, including Senate Energy Committee ranking member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), who called it a "step in the right direction" for what she termed an "outdated policy."


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But oil analysts said it's unlikely that Congress or President Obama will lift the 40-year ban, instead arguing that companies will circumvent the divided legislative process and apply for exemptions.

"There's a legislative channel, which I am not really holding my high hopes for, you know, legislation is really hard to pass, and I don't see a lot of consensus there," Bank of America-Merrill Lynch global head of commodities Francisco Blanch, said in an interview. "I don't see the White House taking a big leadership position on the issue ether."

Republicans and Democrats gearing up for November's midterm elections aren't embracing the platform.

Polling shows that a majority of Americans oppose oil exports if they lead to an increase in gasoline prices.

Oil refiners argue that exporting U.S. crude will push of gasoline prices, because it puts WTI crude oil -- produced in North America -- in direct market competition with Brent crude and other foreign heavy crudes.

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