Senate energy committee leaders on Friday asked the Department of Energy to prepare reports examining issues relating to the country's ban on exporting crude amid record oil and gas production.
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska asked Adam Sieminski, head of the Energy Information Administration, the DOE's statistics arm, to prepare a number of reports on questions relevant to current crude export policies.
"As you know, the possibility of lifting the ban - partially or completely - has emerged as a subject of critical concern here in the Congress," they wrote.
The senators asked the EIA to investigate current and projected production of crude oil and condensates of different grades, the ability of U.S. refiners to process domestic crude oil and condensates, and logistics surrounding crude production, including transport by rail.
They want the EIA to conduct a series of continuing reports rather than a single authoritative study, which may not be useful when reconsidering whether to lift the ban.
"This is a complex puzzle that is best solved with dynamic and ongoing analysis of the full picture, rather than a static study of a snapshot in time," the senators wrote.
The United States is expected to become the world's top oil producer by 2015, thanks to the drilling boom in North Dakota and Texas. That puts pressure on the Obama administration to overturn the ban. But analysts say there is little chance he will do so in a midterm election year.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)