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Where America exports its oil

IT IS rare for policies championed by lobbyists and special interests to make economic sense. It is rarer still for the sound ones to be written into law. But such were the circumstances on December 16th 2015 when American lawmakers voted to lift a 40-year-old ban on most crude-oil exports, which was originally designed to stabilise domestic oil prices. The decision was as popular with economic policy wonks as it was with big oil producers.

Oil companies quickly took advantage of their new powers. Fifteen days after the ban was lifted, a tanker loaded with oil (or as some dubbed it: “liquid American freedom”) left the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, destined for France. Since then, many others have followed. In the first quarter of 2016 America exported 416,000 barrels per day (b/d), according to the Energy Information Administration. The top customers included Canada, which has enjoyed an exemption from the ban since 1985, and Curaçao, where Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant has a refinery. In the second quarter, exports grew to 547,000 b/d.

Still, market conditions have made it difficult for...Continue reading