US Congress votes to end 40-year-old oil export ban

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).

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.


  1. For maritime writers, there is always someone else doing the illustrations, who is not familiar with all the nuances. I learned this the hard way 🙁 many times. The illustration here shows Jones Act tanker “Empire State” blt at Nassco 2010. Happily, there is NOT a Jones Act component attached to the now allowed U.S. oil exports, so a foreign flag vessel image might be more appropriate. Some wags are suggesting that the Jones Act earnings will suffer if U.S. oil exports actually commence (as more crude tihat would have gone to Philadelphia area will now go foreign). However, Philly refineries are taking lots of imported barrels already, contributing to Jones Act malaise.

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