A pair of senators asked the Commerce Department for details about last week’s Commerce Department rulings that allowed two companies to export condensate, deemed by some to be a form of crude oil that hasn’t been refined.
Senators Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) said in a letter Wednesday to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker that the 1970s era export ban covers “lease condensate.”
Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products Partners were given private approvals by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security to export condensate.
The approvals said the companies’ stabilization and distillation-process equipment created a “refined fuel” that was approved for export, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“These private rulings may have been issued in contravention of the long-standing ban on exports of U.S. crude oil, which also prohibits the exports of lease condensate,” the senators said in their letter.
A spokesperson for Sen. Markey said the export ban is part of a 1975 law passed by Congress, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and can only be waived or changed by a formal process that involves public comment.
“If there’s the potential that Commerce has modified or relaxed the regulations based on that law then they need to talk to Congress about what they did and why they did it,” spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said.
Stabilization and distillation equipment similar to that operated by Pioneer and Enterprise is common in South Texas’ Eagle Ford region.
It was unclear what the Commerce Department ruling for the two companies meant for other potential exporters.
The Commerce Department said last week that there’s been “no change in policy on crude oil exports.”
The senators asked the Commerce Department for copies of the two private rulings given to Enterprise and Pioneer and any other rulings made to companies in the last 12 months that relate to interpretations of the oil-export ban or condensate shipments, the Wall Street Journal said.