House Vote May Signal the Beginning of the End of Oil Export Ban


House Republicans will test Thursday whether a once-unthinkable goal of U.S. energy producers could become reality: the end of a 40-year ban on exporting oil.

A mainstay of U.S. energy policy since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, the export limits have been targeted by domestic producers including ConocoPhillips and Continental Resources Inc., who see its repeal as a valve to relieve the glut of domestic crude.

A House committee Thursday will vote on a Republican bill to end the trade restrictions in what is being viewed as a test for bipartisan support. The House plans a floor vote later this month.

While analysts say the prospects of the measure becoming law are dim, momentum in Congress for repeal of the export ban is intensifying, and Democrats have signaled a willingness to participate -- for a price.

“Democrats are sort of smelling blood on this,” Peter Cohn, an analyst with Height Securities LLC in Washington, said in a phone interview. “They think, ’This isn’t going to be the end of the world if we pass the crude-export bill, but we’re going to make it hurt.’” (by Brian Wingfield and Catherine Traywick, Bloomberg Business)