Congress wants to cut imports of Russian crude oil, given the war in Ukraine. Here’s what that means.

“What we do know is that, you know, from the US economy, we don’t import a lot of Russian oil, but we’re looking at what options we can take right now if we were to reduce US consumption by Russian energy,” Psaki said. “But what’s really most important is that we maintain a constant supply of global energy.”

She later added that “the rise in the price of oil and the impact on gasoline prices are certainly what we are focusing on.”

Currently, many international oil traders are hesitant to buy Russian oil. One said Russian oil prices were $25-$30 a barrel lower than comparable grades of oil from other countries. This gap could widen if Russia runs out of space for tankers. However, even the cut price remained very high on Friday, with the price of benchmark Brent crude closing above $118 a barrel.

“We think from a supply and demand perspective. [the ban] is not a big problem. Russia will sell that amount of crude and product elsewhere. We will be able to buy elsewhere,” said Robert McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm. But he warned that traders would point the finger at the United States and say: who’s next? “There might be a perception that it snowballs,” he said.

Shell, which has already announced it will exit joint ventures with Russian state-owned Gazprom and the NordStream II pipeline, said it had stopped “most activities involving Russian oil”. A Shell spokesperson said the company plans “to further reduce our use of Russian oil as alternative crudes become available.” However, the company said that currently “a tight market presents a relative lack of alternatives”.

Support for the crackdown on Russian energy imports quickly gathered momentum this week on Capitol Hill.

While the initial push was led by Republicans – who linked their calls for a crackdown on imports with demands for increased domestic oil and gas production, as well as the rollback of Biden’s climate initiatives. — on Thursday, even Pelosi had expressed support for the idea.

“I totally agree,” Pelosi said when asked about Russian oil imports at her weekly press conference. “Ban it off”.

The pressure on Biden was amplified on Thursday by a bipartisan group of 18 senators who introduced legislation outright banning imports of Russian energy, led by the senses. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both members of the Senate. Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“It’s time for America to stand up,” Manchin told reporters Thursday. “The world depends on us. Energy has been weaponized, and we have the ability to counter that weapon. »

Manchin said that “if there was a poll and they said, ‘Joe, would you pay 10 cents more per gallon to support the Ukrainian people and stop supporting Russia?’ I would gladly pay 10 cents more per gallon.

But Democratic support for ending Russian energy imports has extended far beyond Manchin, the most pro-oil and gas Democrat, to lawmakers with environmental bona fide.

A ban, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) said Thursday, “would accelerate the transition we’re already seeing to solar and wind, hydropower — that acceleration will only help make us makes you more independent of such situations.

And Senator Rob Portman (Ohio), a Republican with close connections across the aisle, touted a ban on Russian oil as an environmentally friendly measure: “Who thinks Russian oil is produced in a greener way than American oil? he told reporters on Thursday. “It’s a lot dirtier in terms of how they produce it and then they have to ship it here which creates a lot of CO2. So the idea that somehow this going to be bad for the environment if we cut off Russian oil – quite the opposite.

But some Democrats continued to privately worry about stepping into a political canyon by adopting a policy that would already raise soaring energy prices without significantly harming Putin’s revenue streams, given that major Russian markets in China and India will likely remain open.

Meanwhile, Europe could feel the brunt of an international ban. Overall, Russia exports around 5 million barrels of crude oil per day, around 60% of which goes to Europe. “Raw [prices] will continue to rise until the risk subsides or there is a recession,” McNally said. “That’s the brutal reckoning of this one.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) is “reviewing the proposal,” spokesman Alex Nguyen said.

Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed Biden and congressional Democrats on multiple fronts to move forward with the ban, while signaling they have no plans to relent in their attacks on climate policies. of the president and his handling of inflation.

Murkowski called on Biden to “assume the role that we can assume as a full-fledged energy producer” and urged U.S. oil and gas companies to increase production, while removing regulatory hurdles his administration has championed.

“But right now the signal from this administration is, we’re going to keep ours in the ground and we’re going to rely on it from elsewhere, and now we realize we’re relying on Russia to help us with this,” he said. – she said. “This signal must be uncrossed.”

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