WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release an eagerly-awaited report within a month exploring whether domestic or global crude oil prices have more impact on domestic gasoline prices, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday.
The study could help shape the debate over whether the United States should end its ban on exporting crude oil.
“We are looking very carefully at the relationship between product prices in the U.S. - particularly gasoline - and crude oil prices, trying to understand whether gasoline pricing is more tied into the U.S. crude oil markets or the global crude oil markets,” EIA Administrator Adam Siemienski told reporters.
Sieminski said the EIA, the statistics arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, is writing a series of reports on issues surrounding the debate over the decades-old export ban.
The EIA will also examine how much it would cost to modify refineries to run lighter types of crude oil rather than the heavier grades they are currently set up to handle, and the extent to which prices for light sweet are falling.
“By the end of the year or early next year, we will probably put out a report that summarizes all of this,” Sieminski said on the sidelines of an energy event.
The impact of lifting the crude oil ban will have on domestic gasoline prices is one of central questions in the debate.
Last month, the Brookings Institution and NERA Economic Consulting said that lifting the ban on exports would reduce gasoline prices by 9 cents per gallon in 2015 because it would encourage more oil and gas production.
Oil refiners and environmental groups oppose a change in the 39-year-old ban. Oil refiners have said they can absorb the impact of the glut of light crude oil and have enough equipment to process it.
Environmentalists worry that opening up crude oil to overseas sales would encourage more production and thus more greenhouse gas emissions. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Marguerita Choy)