By lifting restrictions on crude oil exports, the U.S. economy could generate more than a quarter of a million jobs and save consumers billions in energy costs, the American Petroleum Institute said Monday.
The oil and gas lobby group said consumers would save up to $5.8 billion per year on average between 2015 and 2035, with U.S. supply feeding global demand and triggering a drop in market prices.
"Now that the U.S. is poised to become the world's largest oil producer, the economic case for exports is clear," API Vice President Kyle Isakower said on a conference call with reporters.
"If oil can flow to the global market you will see higher production as well as more American jobs," Isakower said. The surge in global demand from ending the export ban would increase domestic oil production by as much as 500,000 barrels per day and funnel as much as $70 billion into exploration and production, he said.
The institute also said that additional benefits include generating up to 300,000 new jobs by 2020 and further whittling down the U.S. international trade deficit by $22 billion.
The debate about the merits of exports has increased along with U.S. oil production. Some opponents say that exports could actually result in an increase in oil prices if it hits global markets, where prices are currently higher than in the U.S. Others cite national security concerns, saying that export limits assure the U.S. of adequate supplies in times of crisis.
Refiners are also wary about the effects of lifting the ban. Some energy companies have joined hands in a lobbying effort to halt the rush to sell U.S. crude overseas.
Some exports are already allowed. Refined products are not restricted, and the state of Alaska is allowed to export its crude.
The U.S. is slowly moving to export its bountiful natural gas stocks. That has put additional pressure on the Obama administration to lift the ban, which has its roots in the oil shocks of the 1970s.
"This is a new era for American energy, but our energy trade policies are stuck in the 1970s," Isakower said. His remarks echoed those of Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, who last week said ending the 40-year band would bolster America's energy security efforts.
Last week, the Energy Information Administration said the United States contributed more than 10 percent of the total global crude supply in 2013.