WASHINGTON, Oct 30- U.S. gasoline prices are mainly set by global oil prices, a government report said on Thursday, a conclusion that should ease concerns among some lawmakers that lifting a crude oil export ban would mean pain at the pump for American motorists.
In essence the report supported the notion that easing the export restriction, imposed by Congress in the 1970s, was more likely to lower U.S. gasoline prices than raise them.
“The effect that a relaxation of current limitations on U.S. crude oil exports would have on U.S. gasoline prices would likely depend on its effect on international crude oil prices, such as Brent, rather than its effect on domestic crude prices,” the Energy Information Administration said.
The highly anticipated analysis is the latest in a string of reports that found that allowing exports will not, by itself, significantly raise local pump prices, a key concern of opponents of lifting the ban.
The EIA, part of the Department of Energy, said that since domestic gasoline prices are set in the global market, the price of U.S. gasoline is tied more closely to the global benchmark price and therefore would be less affected by a change in domestic policy.
That should bolster the case for lifting the ban among oil producers such as Pioneer Natural Resources, Anadarko Petroleum and Marathon Oil.
Several think tanks, from Resources for the Future to the Brookings Institution, as well as the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), also found that a policy change would have only minor price impact.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny, James Dalgleish and Chris Reese)