House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has backed a bipartisan effort to ban imports of Russian oil into the United States, increasing pressure on President Biden to act on the issue.
“I totally agree, ban it. Ban oil from Russia,” she told a news conference on Thursday.
Lawmakers from both sides have in recent days 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 sweeping sanctions against Russia’s energy sector, fearing they could lead to higher prices.
Asked about the Russian oil ban, Mr Biden said earlier this week that all options were on the table. The Biden administration is weighing options for reducing U.S. dependence on Russian oil without disrupting global supplies, administration officials say.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and top Republican on the panel, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, are expected to introduce the law banning Russian energy imports at a press conference Thursday afternoon, alongside Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D., NJ) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), who will propose complementary legislation in the House.
US officials have said the Biden administration is working with its allies to downgrade Russia’s status as a major oil supplier, pointing to Germany’s decision last month to shut down the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The United States is also talking with European countries about diversifying its energy supplies and 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 data from the US Energy Information Administration. Its exports account for 7% of the global market, and many analysts expect at least some of that to be disrupted as the conflict continues.
Although the United States is the largest oil producer in the world, it still imports millions of barrels every day from other parts of the world because the country consumes far more oil than companies extract domestically. . The United States gets most of its crude imports from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
Yet about 8% of US imports of oil and refined products, or about 672,000 barrels a day, came from Russia last year. Of this, Russian crude accounted for about 3% of the country’s imports, or about 200,000 barrels per day. In mid-2021, U.S. imports of Russian crude reached the highest levels in about a decade and had trended higher in recent years, according to EIA data.
The United States buys Russian oil in part to fuel refineries that need different grades of crude with higher sulfur content to make fuel at full capacity. U.S. refineries were designed decades ago to use heavier grades of crude, often with higher sulfur levels, when domestic supplies were tight. In recent years, Russian crude has filled some of the vacuum left in the world by sanctions against Venezuela and Iran.