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US production a 'game changer' in oil market: API

The top US oil lobby said Tuesday that the oil market's muted response to the escalating crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran shows US production has been a "game changer."

[WASHINGTON] The top US oil lobby said Tuesday that the oil market's muted response to the escalating crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran shows US production has been a "game changer." The United States now is the world's number one crude-oil producer and is "poised to remain a dominant global player, something that was unseen just a decade ago," said Jack Gerard, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, in an annual speech outlining the state of the industry.

Oil prices extended losses on Tuesday amid the Saudi-Iran diplomatic row as worries about global oversupplies trumped concerns about a potential impact on Middle East oil producers.

Citing experts, Mr Gerard noted that price behavior would have been "much different" years ago in response to conflict in the oil-rich region.

"Our abililty to compete in those markets is a game changer," he said.

Mr Gerard accused President Barack Obama's administration of burdening the oil and natural gas industry with regulations -"almost 100 pending regulations and counting" - that could hinder the president's goal of improving the environment.

"As the president's last full year in office begins, we hope that he will take note of and help foster the US model," Mr Gerard said.

The API says its so-called US model involves increasing production, lowering costs for American consumers and promoting a cleaner environment.

"Simultaneously, the United States is leading the world in energy production, we have one of the strongest Western economies and we are leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a trifecta of success unmatched by any other nation," Mr Gerard said.

According to the lobbying group, the American oil and natural gas industry supports about US$1.2 trillion in gross domestic product, close to the size of the Mexican economy.

It cited a 2015 study by Wood Mackenzie that showed with the "right" energy policies, the industry could support up to an additional one million US jobs in 2025.

Among API's top political priorities for 2016 is amending or repealing the renewable fuel standard program, which Congress launched in 2005 in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the country's reliance on imported oil.

The RFS program, which requires oil companies to blend increasing volumes of renewable fuels into transportation fuel, is "a relic of our nation's era of energy scarcity and uncertainty," Mr Gerard said.

He stressed that, counter to some environmentalists' desire to see fossil fuels remain in the ground, the Department of Energy expects they will account for 80 per cent of US energy consumption through 2040.

Still, the group wants an environment that will "allow all energy sources to compete." In a dig at Mr Obama, Mr Gerard said the president "used to say" his administration has an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

He blasted Mr Obama's decision in November to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project that would have brought Canadian oil into the US.

"The demonisation of the Keystone XL pipeline remains a powerful cautionary tale of the dangers of energy policy driven by ideology rather than economic reality and has a chilling effect on expansion efforts for our nation's energy infrastructure," he said.

But he hailed the lifting of the 40-year-old ban on crude exports by Congress in December, a goal of the API, as "a victory of long-term vision and fact-based policymaking over political ideology and ideological dogma."