The US Congress on Friday officially brought to an end the four-decade old ban on the country exporting oil, according to Reuters.
The historic move had been on the cards since Tuesday when Congressional leaders came to an agreement on a wide-reaching spending bill that included among its many measures the lifting of the export ban.
On Friday both chambers of Congress – first the House of Representatives, then the Senate – passed the spending bill with comfortable margins.
Many of the Democrats who had opposed lifting the oil export ban for environmental reasons were brought onside by other elements of the spending bill which offered big tax break incentives to green energy industries.
President Barack Obama signed the spending bill into law soon after the Senate’s vote. His office had previously stated that the president would veto any of several versions of bills aimed solely at axing the export ban.
But the omnibus nature of this spending legislation offers a lot to appease green-minded Democrats.
Oil industry experts say there is unlikely to be a significant increase in US oil exports for some time, maybe years, because of the current market glut.
But eventually this will translate into extra loads for the shipping industry.
The ban which was lifted had come into being in the 1970s as a US reaction to an oil embargo imposed by Arab member nations of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).