The U.S. oil refining industry's association is not opposed to lifting the country's 40-year-old ban on crude exports as long as the move is part of a bigger effort to lower barriers to trade, the group's new head said on Tuesday.
"We're not opposed to lifting the export ban, but we would like to think there could be a broader discussion," about all trade barriers in petroleum markets, Chet Thompson, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), told reporters.
Other trade barriers include the Jones Act, which requires ships servicing coastal businesses to be built in the United States and mostly staffed by U.S. crews, and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which requires minimum amounts of biofuels such as ethanol to be blended into gasoline, said Thompson, who became head of the AFPM in May.
Bills in both houses of the U.S. Congress to remove the crude export ban have been introduced this year, but it is not certain they will gain enough support to pass.
Senators Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, oppose lifting the ban, saying it could raise costs for consumers
And a group of four refiners on the East Coast grouped together last year to form Consumers and Refiners United For Domestic Energy, or CRUDE, to fight lifting the ban. The refiners are Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Alon USA Energy Inc , PBF Energy Inc, and Delta Air Lines Inc subsidiary Monroe Energy.
Despite numerous reports that have concluded that doing away with the oil export ban would either keep U.S. gasoline prices steady or put slight downward pressure on them, Thompson said his group has not reached any conclusions.
"I don't think we know exactly yet what would happen if you lift the ban," said Thompson, who represented AFPM for nine years as external counsel at Crowell and Moring LLP.
Thompson said he plans to increase visits to state officials and local community leaders to talk with them about federal regulations his group believes will add costs to refiners and consumers, such as upcoming EPA rules on smog pollution.
In early June, Thompson brought seven CEOs of AFPM member companies to meet with Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to express concerns about the RFS biofuel mandates.
AFPM hopes to meet more often with the EPA and "provide input more than they allowed in the past," Thompson said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Galloway)