US oil-swap deal with Mexico questioned

A US Senator and prominent proponent of bills to lift the ban on US crude oil exports has called for the Obama administration to reveal if any of some touted oil swaps with Mexico have actually gone ahead, according to Reuters and UPI.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, sent a letter to the Commerce Department on Thursday requesting information about the status of the swaps.

President Barack Obama has pledged to veto any bill attempting to lift the four-decades-old ban on US oil exports, should it reach his desk. The House of Representatives has already approved such a bill and two similar bills in the Senate have cleared committee.

Supporters of the president’s stance – mainly Democrats and a few Republicans with oil refineries in their constituencies – argue that there is no need for a blanket lifting of the ban because the Commerce Department has discretion to allow selected export deals. The swaps with Mexico would be a case in point.

Earlier this year Mexico’s state oil firm Pemex asked for a swap in which it would receive 100,000 barrels of US crude. The Commerce Department approved the request in August.

Now Senator Murkowski’s letter is asking if the oil swaps have happened at all. And if not, why they have been delayed.

The Commerce Department agreement requires Mexico to refine the crude oil at home and forbids re-export to other nations. Similar agreements are in place for Canada.

The US’ self-imposed export ban, the only one among major oil producers, was enacted in the 1970s after a Middle East-created oil crisis in which America faced shortages and price hikes.

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.
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