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It's time to export 'abundance' of US oil: Senator

An Alaska senator who has called for more exporting of U.S. oil said she is asking the Department of Energy for an analysis of the economic impact of selling U.S. crude abroad.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican member of the Senate Energy Committee, called on President Barack Obama in January to waive prohibitions on oil exports.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R.-Alaska
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R.-Alaska

Murkowski, who was the opening speaker at the IHS CERAWeek conference, said she is now asking the Energy Information Administration, part of the DOE, for a review.

Exporting oil is a hot topic in the industry, and could become even hotter if U.S.-Russia tensions continue.

The U.S. could consider expanding exports if it imposed sanctions on Russia for its confrontation with Ukraine, according to Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, who spoke after Murkowski at the conference.

(Read more: 'Nazis' and 'Hypocrites': What Russia's saying on TV)

In an earlier interview, he had said that the U.S. could use its energy resources as leverage against Russia should the situation escalate.

Europe imports 3.5 million barrels of oil a day from Russia, or about 75 percent of the nation's exports.

"I was in favor of opening the export spigot before this," Haass said.

U.S. oil production stands at about 8 million barrels a day, up about 1 million barrels a year ago.

(Read more: Russian energy a threat to Europe, but not the US)

Murkowski is also pushing to open more federal lands for drilling. There is wasted opportunity in Alaska, where 62 percent of the land is federal, on the East and Gulf coasts, and in the Rocky Mountain region, she said.

"We need to give them reason to move, and we also need to make sure the broader public comes along as well," she said. "We need to recalibrate the thinking that America's energy resources are a scarcity to where they are right now—an abundance."

Many oil producers support exports, which are now extremely limited.

Because refined product can also be exported, independent refiners oppose oil exports on concerns that domestic prices will rise.

Murkowski said the result of exporting would not be higher prices, but rather that more crude in the world market would help drive down prices, including for U.S. consumers.

"This is the year of the report," she said, noting that think tanks are crunching the numbers on oil exports.

She hopes the findings will encourage Obama to support easing the prohibition, but if not, Murkowski said she will propose legislation.

CORRECTION: This version corrected that Europe imports 3.5 million barrels of oil a day from Russia.

—By CNBC's Patti Domm. Follow here on Twitter @pattidomm

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