BHP Mackenzie calls US Congress to lift four-decade ban on oil exports

BHP Mackenzie calls US Congress to lift four-decade ban on oil exports

BHP's oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

BHP Billiton’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said Wednesday trade restrictions such as the US crude oil export ban are hampering global commerce and will limit job growth and stifle innovation.

Mackenzie’s speech — delivered to business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce event in the nation’s capital — comes amid a heated debate over the wisdom of the 40-year-old crude export ban.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is set to take up legislation that would lift the ban Wednesday afternoon, with a vote to approve the bill expected Thursday.

“Protectionism is the grit in the engine," he said. "Job creation, economic growth and innovation: All are jeopardized by the pressure placed on global trade over the last decade."

In the U.S., more than a dozen energy companies, including ConocoPhillips Co., have been pressing Congress to lift the nation's four-decade moratorium on oil exports.

“The U.S. would send a strong signal with the repeal of the oil export ban. A change in policy would add hundreds of thousands of jobs. Importantly, it would further demonstrate the nation’s ongoing commitment to economic freedom and the promotion of global growth,” Mackenzie said in a news release.

The executive also urged lawmakers to resuscitate talks for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would span the Pacific. A spat over which cars should be eligible for duty-free trade surfaced during high-level talks in July, holding up an agreement that Mackenzie said would "seriously benefit global economic growth."

BHP Billiton (ASX,NYSE:BHP)) is the world’s largest mining company, one of the biggest producers of steel making materials and the only company that produces oil, gas, coal and uranium, as well as copper.

The company has significant operations in the US, including assets offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and onshore in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Last year, the Obama Administration opened the door for local producers to reach global markets by officially allowing the shipment of as much as a million barrels per day of ultra-light crude, also known as condensate.