United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a US ban on Russian oil and other energy imports, ramping up a pressure campaign on Moscow in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.
Oil prices jumped on the news, with Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 for May climbing by 5.4% to $129.91 a barrel by 1345 GMT.
Biden has been working with allies in Europe, who are far more dependent on Russian oil, to isolate Russia’s energy-heavy economy and President Vladimir Putin.
Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday the United States may move ahead with a ban on Russian oil imports without the participation of allies in Europe.
Who buys Russia’s oil and gas?
Russia exports between 4 and 5 million bbls of crude a day and about 8,500 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually.
The United States imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude and refined products a month on average from Russia in 2021, about 8% of US liquid fuel imports, according to the Energy Information Administration, and any ban is likely to spike gasoline prices and inflation even further.
The United States also imports a negligible amount of coal from Russia.
US gas pump prices near a record high
US Senator Chris Coons said the administration was coordinating with European allies “and making sure that we’ve done the groundwork to understand how to effectively implement a ban on Russian energy.”
“We are going to see increased gas prices here in the United States. In Europe, they will see dramatic increases in prices. That’s the cost of standing up for freedom and standing alongside the Ukrainian people, but it’s going to cost us,” Coons told CNN.
The White House was previously coordinating with US congressional leaders working on fast-tracking bipartisan legislation that would ban Russian imports; any White House ban of Russian imports would make any such bill moot.
Republican lawmakers took to social media to welcome the decision while criticising Biden’s green energy policies and calling for the administration to support more oil and gas production at home.
US Representative Susan Wild said Americans need to realise the larger sacrifice needed. “Obviously nobody wants to pay more for gas,” Wild, a Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said on MSNBC.
REPORT: Sharp rise in oil and gas prices and the impact on the global economy