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Natural Resources & Energy

Lifting Export Ban Could Help Wyoming Oil Producers

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In the budget deal announced Tuesday night, Congress agreed to lift the decades-old crude export ban.

The export ban dates back to the 1970s, when there were fears about oil shortages, but in the last few years, producers in North Dakota, the Rockies and Texas have been pumping huge amounts of oil. That, in turn, has driven down prices.

Although few expect to see significant exports in the short-term, lifting the ban could help reverse that price trend—and keep some struggling companies in business.  

"We may see that there are some firms that are able to survive that would otherwise not have done,” said Chuck Mason, a professor of petroleum economics at the University of Wyoming.

Bruce Hinchey, with the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, agrees lifting the ban is positive, but he doesn’t expect it to have a dramatic effect.

“I think in the long-term, it should mean better prices for Wyoming operators,” he said.

In exchange for lifting the export ban, Republicans agreed to extend tax credits for renewable energy, like wind and solar, and to remove riders from the bill related to various environmental regulations.

Mason says exports shouldn’t have much of an effect at the pump, because gasoline prices have historically been tied to the international oil benchmark.

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