US eases crude oil ex­port ban; al­lows trad­ing with Mexico


The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved lim­ited crude oil trad­ing with Mexico, fur­ther eas­ing the long­stand­ing U.S. ban on crude ex­ports that has drawn con­ster­na­tion from Repub­li­cans and energy pro­duc­ers.

Mexico's state-run oil com­pany Petroleos Mex­i­canos, or Pe­mex, had sought to im­port about 100,000 bar­rels of light crude a day and pro­posed a deal last year in which Mexico would trade its own heav­ier crude for lighter U.S. crude. A ma­jor crude ex­porter for decades, Mexico has seen its oil pro­duc­tion fall in re­cent years.

The li­cense ap­pli­ca­tions to be ap­proved by the U.S. Com­merce Depart­ment al­low for the ex­change of sim­i­lar amounts of U.S. and Mex­i­can crude, said a se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial, who wasn't au­tho­rized to com­ment by name and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity. The of­fi­cial didn't dis­close whether all 100,000 bar­rels re­quested would be al­lowed.

While the Com­merce Depart­ment si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­jected other ap­pli­ca­tions for crude ex­ports that vi­o­lated the ban, the move to al­low trad­ing with Mexico marked a sig­nif­i­cant shift and an ad­di­tional sign that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion may be open to loos­en­ing the ex­port ban. Ex­changes of oil are one of a hand­ful of ex­emp­tions per­mit­ted un­der the ex­port ban put in place by Congress.

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