EU trade chief Karel De Gucht. Image courtesy of World Economic Forum/ Wikimedia Commons.

The EU trade commissioner said Tuesday that he wants the U.S. to lift its ban on crude and gas exports and strike a transatlantic trade deal with the EU to alleviate Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

As tensions persist in Ukraine, the EU is reevaluating its dependence on Russian gas and looking for other sources that would bring prices down and secure its energy supply.

Natural gas prices in the EU are three times higher than prices in the United States.

The ban on exporting crude began during the Arab oil embargo with the passage of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act in 1975.

Crude exported from Alaska’s Cook Inlet, crude produced at certain California fields, crude being transported through the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline and crude being shipped to Canada for domestic consumption is exempt from the ban.

There is no ban on exporting refined products such as diesel and gasoline.

EU trade chief Karel De Gucht met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman ahead of trade pact negotiations scheduled for late September.

The EU is asking for a chapter in the trade pact that lays out U.S. energy export commitments, Reuters said.

However, U.S. officials are concerned that allowing exports could raise domestic prices and negatively impact high energy use industries.

Last week, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden urged the U.S. to lift the export ban in order to stabilize global fuel prices and energy markets.

In June, the U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Texas-based companies Pioneer Natural Resources and Enterprise Products can export condensate to foreign buyers.

However, three more applications to export condensate are currently on hold and the Obama administration has not made any moves to lift the ban.


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