NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of BHP Billiton (BHP) are lower by 0.36% to $58.73 in pre-market trading after it was reported that the diversified natural resources company will soon sell U.S. oil abroad without explicit permission from the government, another sign that the decades-old federal ban on crude exports is crumbling, the Wall Street Journal reports.
BHP Billiton's deal to sell about $50 million of ultralight oil from Texas to foreign buyers without formal government approval is likely to be only the first of many such moves as energy companies seek new markets and higher prices for the surge of crude now pumped in the U.S., the Journal said.
Washington has been sharply divided over whether to allow U.S. oil exports, which have been restricted since the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s. Major oil companies have called for an end to the ban, saying that overseas sales would create U.S. jobs and improve the balance of trade, according to the Journal.
Opponents have said they fear that exports would cause gasoline prices to rise in the U.S., hurting consumers and angering voters, the Journal added.