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Andy Tully

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Exxon Chief Says U.S. Oil Export Ban No Longer Necessary

Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s CEO, says the ban on exports of U.S. crude oil that’s been in effect for decades is no longer necessary and a lifting of regulatory constraints on liquefied natural gas (LNG) would increase America’s energy and employment security.

“In the current debates about LNG and crude oil exports,” Tillerson told a business group in Houston on Oct. 2, “economists and leaders from across the political spectrum, from all sides, agree that free trade would lead to increased investment, more jobs and, importantly, increased production.

“Allowing the marketplace to determine the viability of energy exports or other infrastructure projects, as opposed to making decisions based on political calculus, is the proper course of action,” Tillerson said. “Government is especially well positioned to play a positive role by opening up markets, strengthening international ties and promoting free trade.”

Related: Utica Boosts U.S. Natural Gas Production To Record Levels

Dozens of companies already are prepared to export a very light form of crude called condensate, as well as LNG, at a time when progress in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has caused U.S. oil and gas production to swell to their highest levels in a quarter century.

During his remarks at a State of Energy event sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership, Tillerson didn’t explicitly take a position on the ban on crude exports, which grew out of the oil shortages suffered by the United States in the 1970s, but stressed that it doesn’t reflect the abundance of indigenous oil that America enjoys today.

He did make clear his position in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship crude from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province through the U.S. West and Midwest to oil ports on the Gulf of Mexico. Keystone XL is the subject of intense debate involving environmentalists, labor groups and the energy industry.

Keystone XL requires State Department approval because it would cross international boundaries, but the debate and political maneuvering has repeatedly delayed what Tillerson called necessary approval of the project, “preventing job creation.”

Related: Why U.S. Should Be Cautious About LNG Exports

Even without help from Washington, Tillerson said, his company is doing its part to create jobs in the United States. He noted that ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded international oil company, recently began work on a multibillion-dollar expansion of its chemical manufacturing and refining complex in Baytown, Texas.

Not only will construction create 10,000 jobs in the building trades, he said, but economists have told him that the finished complex will mean 4,000 permanent jobs at the facility itself and in ancillary positions in and around Baytown.

While ExxonMobil’s headquarters are in Irving, Texas, outside Dallas, the company will employ fully 15,000 workers in and around Houston, including Baytown.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Steve Bull on October 07 2014 said:
    Great spin from one who stands to profit from any change. One question: when did the US stop importing oil so that it can now afford to export it?
  • Tim Bilsky on October 08 2014 said:
    We import oil primarily because certain legislators don't allow us to exploit our own resources off the coasts, in ANWR, and other places. In addition, we lack refining capacity, so we need to bring in refined product from outside the U.S.

    Steve, wake up. You clearly are another one of the types who begrudge capitalistic success (you may call it "raping the land") for an industry that you don't like for whatever reason. Of course ExxonMobil stands to profit, they're a for-profit corporation after all. Look at the margins in the oil industry and you'll find they lag behind many others. You can't simply look at dollars and cents. Yes, they make hundreds of billions in revenue, but they're also constantly investing in new parts of their business...see "He noted that ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded international oil company, recently began work on a multibillion-dollar expansion of its chemical manufacturing and refining complex in Baytown, Texas."

    We should be able to refine more of our own oil. The fact that we can't because of politicians is appalling, but if we can export, we can potentially drive down the cost of the product on the world stage and thereby, reduce the cost to our everyday drivers. Companies like ExxonMobil enable me to fill up my tank for a lot less than most other industrialized nations, and for that, I thank them.

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