Lake Charles American-Press, Sunday June 28, 2015
Ask most people to name the world’s largest oil producer, and chances are they’ll say Saudi Arabia. Some may guess Russia. Almost everyone would be surprised by the true answer: the United States.
Thanks to technological innovations that have unlocked huge new oil and natural gas deposits both on land and offshore, we are no longer a declining energy power relying on imports to fuel our cars and heat our homes. In fact, we’re poised to become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters. Just one obstacle stands in our way: a forty-year old law that bans crude oil exports.
The ban hurts us here in Louisiana especially, where the oil and gas industry supports tens of thousands of jobs and contributes billions of dollars to the state economy. And it’s not only big companies that would benefit. Hundreds of smaller industry suppliers also would grow as exports increase.
Passed in the mid-1970s at a time of perceived shortages and OPEC oil embargoes, the ban was intended to reduce energy dependence and ensure an adequate supply for Americans. That may have made sense at the time, but we live in a very different world today. The ban inhibits U.S. companies from competing successfully in global markets and stymies investment here at home. By keeping our excess oil here, we allow other producers to grow market share at our expense – and some of these competitors are not countries to which we should be conveying such an advantage: Iran, Russia and Venezuela, for example.
We pay for this ban at the pump as well. Over the last several years, many studies by government agencies, think tanks and universities show that the export ban raises gas prices everywhere. In some states, it adds as much as 13 cents to the price of every gallon. That’s billions of dollars that consumers would otherwise spend on other products and services.
Last month, a bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced the “Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015.” The bill would, among other things, authorize exports of all crude oil and condensate produced in the United States. While passage should be a slam dunk, given how the oil and gas business has changed since the ban was put in place four decades ago, opposition is strong. I urge our representatives in the House of Representatives and Senate to support the bill.
The current ban on crude oil exports prevents us from taking advantage of our great energy resources and realizing our full potential as a force in international oil markets. It also stands in the way of new jobs – as many as 7,000 here in Louisiana, according to a 2014 study by the consulting firm ICF – and lower gas prices. What are we waiting for?
Brady Como is Executive Vice President of Delmar Systems Inc. Based in Broussard, Louisiana, Delmar Systems provides mooring services to the offshore oil and gas industry.