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Washington's shift on oil exports, just a first step: Greg Zuckerman

Daily Ticker

Earlier this week the Obama Administration lifted the longstanding ban on U.S. crude oil exports. The ruling allows just two Texas companies -- Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products Partners to export.

In an unusual twist, the ruling wasn't made public and the White House said its policy hadn't changed because the ruling pertained to the export of light condensate, not conventional crude oil.

The Commerce Department, which granted the permits, reclassified the oil as processed petroleum product, which is not banned for export.

Greg Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of the book The Frackers, tells The Daily Ticker that the administration's move is a "first step" in a change of policy and is a result of the shale revolution underway in the U.S.

Related: Why the oil market is shrugging off Iraq…for now

That revolution has boosted U.S. production to 5 million barrels a day from 8.4 million barrels a day since 2006, according to Zuckerman. The U.S. is now the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas combined.

Zuckerman expects more restrictions on the export of U.S. crude oil will be lifted over the next six months to a year.

Related: Is the fracking revolution overhyped?

So who benefits besides the companies that export oil? The U.S. economy in general because this boosts exports and the dollar, says Zuckerman. But he says, "You do worry that it will raise prices when it comes to [domestic] natural gas or gasoline."

One could also argue that this may not be the best time to change oil export policy since the U.S. still imports over 7 million barrels of crude oil a day, including oil from the Mideast where turmoil is spreading and intensifying.

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