NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Congress handed Louisiana's struggling oil and gas industry a new lifeline Friday with an end to the decades long ban on crude oil exports.
"One of the biggest fights we've been having in a long time is to lift this ban on exporting oil. It's something that's held our country back. It's something that will create thousands of jobs in Louisiana," U.S. Congressman for Jefferson Parish Steve Scalise said.
Scalise voted in favor of the spending plan for 2016 that allows the United States to export oil for the first time since 1975.
The ban went into place as the U.S. squabbled with oil cartel OAPEC over a conflict in Israel.
Scalise argued the ban was outdated and kept the nation out of a powerful position in the international economy.
He said U.S. oil companies could make agreements with countries within weeks.
"Look at a country like Ukraine. They are right next to Russia. Russia is trying to take back the Ukraine. They've already invaded Crimea," Scalise said. "A lot of those countries would love to buy their oil from us, but they can't right now. You can truly undercut Russia, which hurts their economy and really delivers a blow to Putin."
"Where we'll see the positive effect is in the shipping, in the terminaling, the transportation sectors," Tulane Energy Institute Associate Director Eric Smith said.
Smith believes opening this new export will not likely have much of an effect on the global price of oil, but it will have an effect on the local economy as billions are likely to be pumped in to improve infrastructure.
"Things like LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) might pick up some business as they convert from being an import terminal to an export terminal. The big ships really can come into LOOP but can't come up the Mississippi River," Smith said. "We'll see it in the construction yards that build barges and push boats and coastal tankers."
Scalise also believes drivers could see a slight decrease at the pump as other oil producers will likely lower their price to compete and keep customers buying from them.