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U.S. Considers Imposing Russian Oil Ban Without EU Allies

The United States is considering banning imports of Russian oil without the participation of its European allies, at least at an initial stage of putting further pressure on Putin’s largest source of revenues, Bloomberg reported on Monday, quoting two sources with knowledge of the matter.  

So far, the U.S. and the European allies have closely coordinated the sanctions response to the Russian war in Ukraine, including in kicking several Russian banks out of the SWIFT system.

Sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas are now on the table, but the Western allies have refrained so far from imposing those amid concerns about creating shortages on the oil market. Moreover, Europe is much more dependent on Russian oil than the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States and its European allies were in “very active discussions” about banning the import of Russian oil.

“We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries while, of course, at the same time maintaining a steady global supply of oil,” Secretary Blinken told  Chuck Todd of NBC News.

Also on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a note to Democratic lawmakers that “the House is currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy. Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization.”

The U.S. imports around 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Russian crude oil and petroleum products, according to EIA data.

Even without sanctions on Russia’s energy exports, refiners in the U.S. and Europe have been in a “self-sanctioning” mode since Putin invaded Ukraine.

Some of the biggest U.S. importers of Russian crude oil have suspended their purchases of the commodity, including Monroe Energy, which is the third-biggest U.S. buyer of Russian oil.

Sanctions on oil from Russia—which exports around 5 million bpd of crude and 2.8 million bpd of refined products—would have a much bigger effect on market balances compared to the sanctions on Iran and Venezuela of the previous years. The possibility of oil sanctions sent Brent prices above $130 a barrel at the start of trade on Monday.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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