Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 01 2015

Heitkamp Reinforces Need to Lift 40 Year Old Ban on Exporting U.S. Crude Oil

Heitkamp and Republican Senator Murkowski Speak on Senate Floor about their Bipartisan Amendment to End Ban & Support American Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska spoke on the Senate floor this week about the need to lift the outdated ban on exporting American crude oil and allow American producers to compete on a level playing field on the global market.

Heitkamp was the lead cosponsor on a bipartisan amendment by Murkowski that would lift the ban which has been in place since the 1970s. This week, the Senators joined together on the Senate floor to reinforce that the existing restrictions on U.S. oil producers are harming America’s competiveness and leaving our friends and allies with little choice but to purchase oil from volatile or unstable countries in the Middle East and Africa or from unfriendly countries, like Russia and Venezuela. The Senators’ amendment would also require the U.S. Department of Energy to issue a report about the ability of U.S. and Iranian oil producers to compete in the global market. The Senators’ amendment is to a bill that would give Congress the ability to review any nuclear deal with Iran, which the Senate is currently debating.

Heitkamp has been a vocal advocate for lifting the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil. She spoke about the need to end this antiquated policy during the national energy strategy meeting the U.S. Department of Energy held in Bismarck in August 2014 at her request. Then in September 2014, Heitkamp and John Hess, the CEO of Hess Corporation, appeared together on CNBC’s Squawk Box where they talked about the need to lift the ban. 

“We now live in a global world and it’s past time that we end an outdated policy from a bygone era by lifting the ban on exporting American crude oil,” said Heitkamp. “Other countries, including Iran, export much of their crude oil. But in the U.S. – and particularly in North Dakota where we are the number two crude oil producing state – we need to be able to step up, compete on a level playing field, and get the best price on the world market. It would also encourage our friends and allies to import or leverage American oil to lessen the influence and dominant energy positions of unstable countries like Iran, Russia, or Venezuela. We have a real opportunity to make a needed change that supports our country, our economy, and our security.”

Iran currently exports over one million barrels per day of crude oil to global markets. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that lifting sanctions on Iran could increase Iranian volumes by 700,000-1,000,000 barrels per day. Those numbers will rise if sanctions on Iran are lifted. Whereas, if the U.S. ban on exporting crude oil is not lifted, the Iranian government would benefit from trying to find the best market for their crude oil, while U.S. producers would continue to be restricted to domestic refineries as their only viable option.


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