EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic. Image courtesy of Maros Sefcovic/Youtube.

The European Union is vocally supporting efforts in the United States to lift a 40 year long crude export ban as a way to help the EU secure its energy supply.

European Union energy chief Maros Sefcovic told the Wall Street Journal that lifting the ban is one of the EU’s most pressing concerns as it negotiates a new trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) with the United States.

U.S. officials have so far declined to add an energy chapter to the TTIP, but the EU hopes booming U.S. shale gas production and a rocky oil market will place a spotlight on the issue.

“We believe that the energy chapter in TTIP…could make a quite important contribution to the mutually beneficial trade exchange, but also to the energy security of the EU,” Sefcovic said.

A spokesman for the U.S. trade representative told the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. hasn’t made a final decision on whether or not an energy chapter will be included in the TTIP.

“The United States has not decided on the threshold issue of whether or not there should be a separate chapter, or whether there should be unique provisions addressing energy and raw materials, or whether general rules that cover all sectors should apply,” the spokesman said.

The remarks came just days after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators led by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced a new bill to overturn the export ban.

The Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S.1312) would authorize exports of all crude oil and condensate produced in the United States without a federal license, on the same basis as exports of petroleum products are currently authorized but with an exception for oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

“The 1970s-era ban on exporting American crude oil is as outdated as the typewriters on which the policy was written. It’s past time for an upgrade,” Sen. Heitkamp said last week.

Industry groups have hailed the bill as an important step towards helping U.S. producers stay competitive in the global market.

“Study after study has confirmed that trade policies from the 1970s are only putting U.S. workers and consumers at a disadvantage. This bill will unlock America’s energy potential and help U.S. energy production to stay competitive in a difficult market,” American Petroleum Institute executive vice president Louis Finkel said.

Some senate members have opposed the bill citing concerns that lifting the ban could cause domestic gasoline prices to spike, a view the bill’s sponsors refute.


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