In a historic moment, a tanker of Texas crude oil embarked for South Korea, marking the first sale of unrefined American oil since 1975.
The export ban was originally instituted during the oil crises of the 1970s, where the country looked to conserve resources, while still allowing the export of refined oil and gases.
The $40 million, 400,000 barrel shipment aboard the Singapore-flagged BW Zambesi left late on Wednesday night from Enterprise's terminal in Texas City, south of Houston, and is expected to be the first of many such vessels leaving the port. The Wall Street Journal reported that oil traders are already engaged in negotiations for additional sales to Asian buyers.
So far, as many as 10 other organizations have sought permission to begin exporting unrefined oil, which requires a special license issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security, which is under the authority of the U.S. Commerce Department.
The decision to allow select organizations to export unrefined oil and condensate came as a result of a surge in domestic production. According to federal data, since the end of 2011, U.S. oil production has jumped by about 48 percent, reaching current levels of an average of 8.4 million barrels a day. The spike in production was caused by the introduction of new technology and drilling techniques, namely the ability to tap oil from shale formations in Texas, North Dakota and other select regions.
The departure of the BW Zambesi marks a milestone in the Texas oil industry, and could develop an increased demand for Houston oil business consulting to explore best practices in safely and effectively transporting domestic unrefined oil overseas. Oil and gas strategy consulting is often necessary to streamline business practices and ensure that the appropriate technologies and leadership is in place.