House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) backed a bipartisan effort to ban Russian oil imports into the U.S., ratcheting up pressure on President Biden to take action on the issue.
“I’m all for that—ban it. Ban the oil coming from Russia,” she said during a news conference on Thursday.
Lawmakers of both parties in recent days have called for a ban on Russian oil imports in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden administration officials have so far largely avoided widespread sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, fearing they would result in price increases.
When asked about banning Russian oil, Mr. Biden said earlier this week that all options are on the table. The Biden administration is weighing options to cut U.S. dependence on Russian oil without disrupting global supply, according to administration officials.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are expected to introduce the Banning Russian Energy Imports Act at a news conference Thursday afternoon, alongside Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), who will offer companion legislation in the House.
U.S. officials said the Biden administration is working with its allies to degrade Russia’s status as a leading supplier of oil, pointing to Germany’s decision last month to halt the Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline. The U.S. is also talking to European countries about diversifying their energy supplies, and is taking steps to block Russia’s access to technologies used by its oil-and-gas sector.
Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer, responsible for more than 10% of global supply, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Its exports account for 7% of the world market, and many analysts expect at least some of that to get disrupted as the conflict continues.
Though the U.S. is the world’s biggest oil producer, it still imports millions of barrels each day from other parts of the world because the country consumes far more oil than companies extract domestically. The U.S. gets most of its crude imports from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Still, about 8% of U.S. imports of oil and refined products, or about 672,000 barrels a day, came from Russia last year. Of that, Russia’s crude made up roughly 3% of the nation’s imports, or about 200,000 barrels a day. In mid-2021, American imports of Russian crude hit the highest levels in about a decade, and had been trending higher in recent years, EIA data show.
The U.S. buys Russian oil in part to feed refineries that need different grades of crude with a higher sulfur content to make fuel at top capacities. American refineries were designed decades ago to use heavier grades of crude, often with higher levels of sulfur, when domestic supplies were lower. In recent years, Russian crude has filled some of the gap around the world left behind by sanctions on Venezuela and Iran.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism