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White House: no change to U.S. ban on crude oil exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Wednesday there had been no change to the U.S. ban on exports of crude oil, clarifying reports about a decision by the Commerce Department on exports of a type of ultra-light oil that roiled oil markets.

Commerce Department officials told two companies that processing the oil, known as condensate, through a stabilizer was sufficient to qualify it as a refined product, eligible for export without a license.

The United States has long banned exports of crude oil, but producers have been lobbing Congress to lift that ban now that domestic oil production is booming.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, responding to a question at a regular news briefing, told reporters there has been "some misunderstanding" about the implications of the Commerce Department decision.

"The fact is there has been no change to our policy on crude oil exports," Earnest said, reiterating comments made by the Commerce Department on Tuesday evening

"As the Commerce Department has said, oil that goes through a process to become a petroleum product is no longer considered crude oil," he said. "Petroleum products can be exported without a license only in very limited circumstances."

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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