As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, the global economy’s continued reliance on Russian oil and gas has prompted a wave of policy responses alongside pushback from U.S. lawmakers seeking to halt imports and boost domestic production.
Brent crude, a key international benchmark, has surged since the invasion began on Feb. 24, rising from under $97 per barrel to more than $107 per barrel as of March 1.
At 524 million tons in 2021, Russia produces more oil than any country other than Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The International Energy Agency reports that top destinations for that oil include OECD Europe and China, which receive roughly 60 percent and 20 percent of Russian oil exports, respectively.
The United States crude oil imports from Russia more than doubled last year, rising to an average of 209,000 barrels per day in 2021 from a daily average of roughly 76,000 barrels in 2020, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In November 2021, Russia supplied 595,000 of the nearly 8.5 million barrels per day of crude oil and products imported by the United States, according to the EIA—fully 7 percent of those imports.
Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, the country’s dominant crude oil export hub, said the United States imported more Russian crude to replace Venezuelan heavier crudes after Washington sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA.
Many refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast are designed to handle heavier crudes rather than the lighter ones coming out of the Permian Basin in the southwestern United States.
“What we hope to see is more American refineries retool, to be able to refine the lighter, sweeter crude, but those are more expensive feedstocks,” said Strawbridge.
He told The Epoch Times that current U.S. sanctions won’t do much because they allow Russian oil and gas to continue flowing.