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Crude oil for all? U.S. Under pressure to lift export ban

Lauren Lyster

The U.S. is producing 8.5 million barrels of oil a day -- amounting to the highest production in July since April of 1987 -- and other countries are eager to get in on the fruits of the domestic energy evolution.

Related: Here's why the U.S. energy revolution has proven skeptics wrong

According to a Reuters exclusive, pressure is mounting on Washington from countries including South Korea and Mexico and the European Union to relax the U.S. ban on crude oil exports. Reuters reports drillers, too, are "stepping up their campaign[s] to loosen - or better yet eliminate -- a ban imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which they argue is now obsolete." (Exports of refined petroleum products are permitted.)

Advocates argue that easing or lifting the ban would boost the U.S. economy (e.g. boosting exports, investment and jobs) and stabilize oil prices globally.

Related: Lifting the ban on oil exports could create more than a million jobs: study

Critics include environmentalists who believe this would incentivize fracking and others who worry it would raise prices of fuel domestically.

"I think it makes total sense for America to do this for economic and geopolitical reasons," says Aaron Task, Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief. Task points to South Korea's reliance on imports for 97% of its energy, saying U.S. oil would allow them to be less reliant on OPEC countries. Task also says he doesn't think this would have a major impact on oil/fuel prices and might help to dampen them if anything, and points to the positive impact the exports could have on the U.S. trade deficit. In 2012, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, the trade deficit in oil was equal to 55 percent of the overall trade deficit.

In June, the Obama Administration allowed two Texas companies -- Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products Partners to export light condensate crude, when the Commerce Department, which grants the permits, reclassified the oil as processed petroleum product, which is not banned for export. The White House said its policy on exports hadn't changed.

Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and White House Adviser John Podesta said the White House was considering lifting the ban though no decision has been made. Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Zuckerman told us in June he expects restrictions to be lifted in six months to a year from now.

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

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