Lift Crude Oil Export Ban Expected To Expire While Renewable Credits Continue

Congress could vote as soon as Thursday on a large end-of-the-year bill that could lift a four-decade ban on U.S. crude exports. The $1.1 trillion tax-and-spending package is also expected to include a five-year extension on credits for wind and solar energy producers.

Oil industry experts say it won’t matter much for Colorado producers in the short term because the price of oil is below $40 a barrel—about half of what it was during the summer of 2014.

Bentek Energy Analyst Tony Starkey says he doesn’t expect Colorado or U.S. producers to rush toward exporting the product if the ban is lifted.

“There’s really no uplift for US producers given the current price environment. It makes no economic sense to export our crude right now," he said.

Companies could see benefits to more open markets over the long term when the price of crude oil increases.

As for renewable credits, Colorado School of Mines economics professor Ian Lange says the certainty could mean that more utilities move away from coal as an energy source.

“If people can keep getting subsidies for renewables, then coal is kind of the more expensive product right now to generate electricity. And so it’s just going to continue to decline.”