The US government has moved towards lifting a 40-year ban on oil exports by allowing two companies to sell ultra-light oil to foreign buyers.
Pioneer Natural Resources, of Irving, Texas, and Enterprise Products Partners, of Houston, have been told by the Bureau of Industry and Security that they can export the oil, known as condensate, which can be turned into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.
The US has a glut of oil following a fracking revolution that promises to make the country the world’s largest crude producer, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, America produced 8.3m barrels per day of crude in April, the highest level since 1988.
However, Congress banned exports after price shocks from the 1973 Arab oil embargo led to the notion that the US was running out of oil.
Companies are allowed to export refined fuel, such as gasoline and diesel, but not oil itself. The US Commerce Department, which oversees the Bureau of Industry and Security, is believed to have changed the definition of some ultra-light oil, clearing the way for the two companies to sell abroad, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Oil shipments could begin as soon as August, in a move that energy research group IHS believes could add more than $1 trillion (£590bn) to government revenues through 2030, trim fuel prices and create an average of more than 300,000 jobs a year.
Pioneer Natural Resources did not return calls for comment. Enterprise Products Partners and the Bureau of Industry and Security could not be reached for comment.