Continental 'applies for crude export permit'

US shale player Continental Resources has applied to export some of its crude as an industry push intensifies to loosen a decades-old ban on most oil sales abroad, the company has confirmed.

Steve Bradley, vice president of oil marketing for the company, told a Houston conference that US regulators have not yet denied its permit request to the US Commerce Department, according to Dow Jones.

"For the government to sit on something is actually a positive sign," the news wire quoted Bradley as saying.

"Until they say no, we think we're in play."

A Continental spokeswoman confirmed an application but said the company declined to discuss commercial terms.

"The pending license is to further demonstrate the need for a free market for crude – just like refined products already have," she told Upstream.

"We are attempting to get light sweet to the refineries that are configured for it."

US Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Continental chief executive Harold Hamm has been a vocal proponent of relaxing 1970s-era restrictions limiting most crude sales abroad.

Prolific production of light sweet crude from shale plays such as the Bakken has bolstered total US output from 5 million bpd in 2008 to 8.2 million bpd in March 2014, according to IHS data.

Proponents contend the policy change could help iron out the mismatch between expanding supplies of light crude and US refining facilities designed for production of heavier grades.

As a result producer companies could get better prices for their oil.

Consulting firm IHS in a study this week concluded that allowing more crude exports would help boost US output by 1.2 million barrels per day and attract $746 billion investment between 2016 and 2030.

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