Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield on Tuesday put the chances of the U.S. government lifting a ban on crude oil exports this year at 40 to 50 percent.
The chief of one of the country's largest independent oil and gas exploration and production companies said he has recently held talks with members of Congress, senators and Obama administration staff about removing the decades-old restriction on shipping unrefined crude overseas.
On Monday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would introduce legislation this year to allow U.S. crude exports.
"We're making progress. We're educating people. I'm becoming more and more optimistic," Sheffield told CNBC's "Power Lunch" in an interview on the sidelines of the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.
The odds of lifting the ban will plummet in 2016 as attention shifts to the U.S. presidential race, Sheffield said. However, he sees an 80 to 90 percent chance that American E&P companies will be allowed to export black gold by early 2017.
Last year, the Commerce Department gave Pioneer and Enterprise Products Partners permission to begin selling an ultralight oil product called condensate to foreign buyers. Condensate can be used to make fuel.