White House Weighs Russian Oil Ban as Gas Prices Soar

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“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” he said in a statement on Monday. “At the moment, Europe’s supply of energy for heat generation, mobility, power supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way.”

Biden administration officials say the immediate discussions over Russian energy are focused on banning domestic oil imports rather than carrying out wider sanctions that would cut off purchases by other countries. That could lessen the economic shock to oil markets given the United States does not import much Russian crude.

Last fall, it imported about 700,000 barrels per day from Russia, less than 10 percent of its total oil imports, U.S. officials said. By contrast, Europe imported 4.5 million barrels per day from Russia, about one-third of its total imports. The United States can easily find a way to make up for any loss of Russian oil, while Europe would have a harder time doing so, analysts said.

But any disruption in the flow of oil could further rattle global markets, including oil prices, which have surged because of the uncertainty over Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended Monday up about 4.3 percent to $123.21 a barrel, but earlier it had climbed as high as $139 a barrel. The price of oil has soared about 26 percent over the past week as the conflict has intensified.

In a sign of how concerned the administration is about the uncertainties around global energy flow, American officials have been discussing the possibility of increasing supply or distribution with their counterparts in oil-producing nations, including Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which is a partner of Russia and has been subject to broad U.S. sanctions for years.

On Feb. 15, more than one week before Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden said in a speech that a conflict involving Russia could affect American consumers. “I will not pretend this will be painless,” he said. “There could be impact on our energy prices, so we are taking active steps to alleviate the pressure on our own energy markets and offset rising prices.”

At his State of the Union speech last week, Mr. Biden talked about the economy’s strength but noted that high gas prices, along with rapid inflation, are hurting consumers. Those dynamics pose a political problem for the president, whose approval rating has fallen amid voter concerns about his handling of the economy.



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