Shale boom: Texas set to be world’s second largest oil producer

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

What’s Texas’ biggest problem these days? There’s so much oil being produced in the state that it can’t be refined quickly enough.

Texas is on its way to become the world’s second largest oil producer, but a 1970s law blocking crude oil exports from the United States means that much of that oil is sitting idle in the Lone Star State waiting to be refined.

Texan officials are joining the oil industry and federal lawmakers in calling for an end to the oil export ban, put in place in the wake of OPEC’s oil embargo on the U.S. and its allies. But now that U.S. oil production is booming, calls for the export ban to lifted have been increasing.

“That’s one of the reasons why a number of people in the industry and I have called on the federal government to reconsider limitations on exports of American oil,” Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter told 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board.

In just five short years, crude oil production in Texas has more than doubled, from 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2008 to more than 2.5 million barrels per day last  year, according to government data.

Last year, Texas produced 35 percent of all the U.S. oil, but the state is projected to become the world’s second largest oil producer by the end of this year — only Saudi Arabia will produce more oil.

Experts say that hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford shale formation could bring Texas oil production to about 3.4 million barrels per day by the end of 2014, according to the Houston Chronicle. Texas production alone would surpass production in Iraq and Iran.

This is good news for oil refiners who will stay busy creating petroleum products and exporting them around the world — last year the U.S. exported record-levels of petroleum products like gasoline.

But this is bad news for oil companies without refining operations whose oil sits idle waiting to be refined. Not to mention the fact that refiners can get this oil at a discount.

“At some point in time we are going to exceed our production capacity, especially of sweet crude oil in the U.S, which is what Eagle Ford oil is,” said Porter, adding that refineries can’t be expanded fast enough to handle U.S. light crude production.

Federal lawmakers have been pushing President Obama to use his executive authority to lift portions of the country’s oil export ban. Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski put out a report showing that there is precedent for Obama to use his authority to lift parts of the export ban.

“The historical record is clear that the executive branch retains the authority to permit crude oil exports under certain conditions,” reads Murkowski’s report. “In fact, this was done on several occasions by successive administrations.”

“Even statutes that generally prohibit the export of crude oil contain provisions that permit the president to authorize exports under certain conditions,” the report adds.

The White House, however, has given no indication whether or not it will act to ease the oil export ban, especially in the face of staunch environmental opposition to all fossil fuel development and export.

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