Would exporting more crude oil affect prices?

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2015 file photo, stacks and burn-off from the Exxon Mobil refinery are seen at dusk in St. Bernard Parish, La. The price of U.S. crude oil on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 tumbled to its lowest level in more than six years. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

A federal study suggests lifting the nation’s ban on crude oil exports would not adversely affect gasoline prices at the pump.

Those results may encourage Congress to put a bill to end the ban before President Obama, according to U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette.

“We want an efficient market,” Boustany said. “If we were to lift the ban, it would not materially affect pricing in the U.S.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration revealed their report Tuesday. Both Congress and the Obama administration had asked for the EIA to study the issue.

Boustany said he was not surprised by the results.

In the report’s executive summary, the EIA said it looked at the question through four baseline cases. In two, the effects on pricing was negligible. In two others, prices would slightly reduced.

“I’ve long advocated lifting the ban on exports,” Boustany said. “Our producers can compete. With more oil in the market, with higher demand, we will get to the right price.”

Boustany said it is uncertain how the president — and the Senate, for that matter — might react to a bill to lift the ban. But he said there was a growing consensus in the House of Representatives to put a bill before the president and see what he does.

The administration has permitted exports of petroleum products, some swaps of crude oil with Mexico, and federal policies permit exports of crude oil to Canada and exports of crude oil from Alaska’s North Slope.

“Through the first five months of 2015, crude oil exports averaged 491,000 barrels per day,” the EIA said in the report. Also, exports of processed condensate through the first five months averaged 84,000 barrels a day.

Boustany said the U.S. could strengthen its energy policy position by working more closely with Canada and Mexico to the benefit of all three.

“If we can better coordinate policy, we can take care of North America’s needs without other imports,” he said.

In addition, he said, the U.S. could present an American energy view in the world with open markets and a diversity of energy sources, limiting the influence of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office said the report “validates what Dr. Cassidy and others have been advocating”: lifting the ban.

His spokeswoman, Jillian Rogers, said Cassidy believes ending the ban would create thousands of jobs in Louisiana and strengthen the U.S. economy.

“The Obama administration recently OK’d oil exports to Mexico, which is a good first step, but more needs to be done to help Louisiana’s energy economy,” she said.

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