Crude oil exports from the United States were 268,000 barrels per day in April, the highest in 15 years, with almost all of the oil delivered to Canada, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Monday.
Exports have increased sharply since the start of 2013 and have exceeded 200,000 bpd in five of the past six months.
The EIA, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, said the increase was largely the result of sharply rising U.S. crude production.
Congress banned most U.S. crude oil exports after price shocks from the 1973 Arab oil embargo led to the notion that the United States was running out of oil.
For the kinds of exports that are allowed, including sales to Canada and shipments from Alaska's Cook Inlet, U.S. companies need a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), part of the Department of Commerce.
Most of the recent surge in shipments to Canada has been from the U.S. Gulf Coast region. Such shipments averaged 134,000 bpd in the first quarter, up 283 percent from the 2013 average.
In the first quarter of 2014, nearly 75 percent of Gulf Coast exports have left the region from the Houston-Galveston district, in Texas. The remaining barrels were loaded in Port Arthur, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana, the EIA said.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Chris Reese)