America's shale-driven oil boom is expected to drive domestic crude output to a 43-year record in 2015, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), and many experts now forecast the U.S. becoming completely energy independent by 2020.
All of which raises the question, what will the U.S. do with the surplus?
One idea being posited by many energy producers and their lobbyists is to raise the ban on U.S. oil exports, a set of restrictions that date back to the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. Such a move, producers say, could lower energy prices for U.S. consumers by reducing American reliance on foreign oil, and in the process reverse a ban that's antiquated anyway.
At first glance it might appear that exporting U.S. crude would be positive for energy producers and the greater U.S. economy, but there's another side to that argument—and it's also coming from within the industry.
Refiners are arguing that lifting the ban could actually have an adverse effect: Their theory is that exporting oil could create an environment of competitive bidding for U.S. oil in the international market—which would in turn keep prices elevated or even raise them.