“No decision” on whether to ban Russian oil

The White House states that no decision has been made on whether the United States will ban Russia’s oil imports in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This is because oil and gas prices have reached record highs, the Biden administration has continued to talk with major oil producers around the world, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have announced plans for a law banning Russia’s energy imports.

“The president has not made a decision at this time on a ban on oil imports from Russia,” White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

Earlier that day, members of the Houseways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee empowered US President Joe Biden to raise tariffs on goods from Russia and Belarus and demanded US Trade Representative Catherine Thai. Announced its plans to call for the suspension of Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Thailand will also need to call on Belarus to suspend its proposed accession to the WTO.

“When you take these actions, you get a clear message. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war is unacceptable and the United States stands firmly in our NATO allies. “

The statement was made by Richard Neil (Democratic Party), Chairman of the Houseways and Means Committee, Ron Weiden (Democratic Party), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Kevin Brady (Texas) and Mike Clapo (Idaho), Republicans. It was announced. ).

The White House said it is trying to balance Russian sanctions that maximize pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin while minimizing costs to US consumers.

According to GasBuddy, the average price of a gallon of US gas reached a record high of $ 4.104 on Monday, breaking the record of $ 4.103 set in 2008.

On Sunday, oil prices soared to their highest level since 2008 due to a delay in the potential return of Iran’s crude oil to the global market.

Biden approved the Ministry of Energy (DOE) on March 1 to release 30 million barrels of oil from the US strategic petroleum reserves. This represents half of the adjusted 60 million barrel emissions from the International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries.

However, the release of 60 million barrels is equivalent to 2 million barrels a day in 30 days, while the United States consumes an average of about 20 million barrels a day.

Even before Russia decided to invade Ukraine, the White House said it was in talks with major oil producers around the world to negotiate ways to stabilize energy markets. These include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.

A senior Biden administration official visited Venezuela to meet with President Nicolas Maduro’s government, according to a weekend report.

The United States cut off diplomatic relations with Maduro and closed the Caracas embassy in 2019. The Trump administration has accused the authoritative leaders of election fraud, sanctioned Venezuela’s oil exports, and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

When asked if lowering gas prices was worth trading with Maduro on Monday, Pusaki replied that it “is ahead of some steps in any process.”

“There have been discussions by members of the government over the past few days. Those discussions are also underway. And part of our focus is on the health and well-being of detained US citizens. It’s another process. But that’s part of their relationship with them, “she said.

Saki also said that the energy dialogue with Iran coincided with the ongoing nuclear debate, and the energy dialogue with Saudi Arabia was part of a meeting with U.S. authorities to discuss “various topics” a few weeks ago. Said there was.

Some MPs and the media have called on the United States to increase domestic oil production as a means of stabilizing gas prices, which goes against the Biden administration’s efforts to keep the United States away from natural gas consumption.

Biden signed a presidential directive in the first few days of his inauguration and suspended the drilling lease for new fossil fuels. Psaki has continued to point out untapped, already-approved leases for the oil industry.

“We are actually producing more oil, a record number and we will continue to produce more oil. We have 9,000 approved drilling permits that are unused.” Psaki said on Monday. “Therefore, the proposal to not allow companies to drill is inaccurate.”

Russia supplies 10% of the US natural gas and oil supply, and about 40% of the European Union’s supply.

If the United States moves to ban Russia’s oil, it may be acting alone. Germany, Russia’s largest buyer of crude oil, has rejected plans to ban energy imports. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is accelerating plans to expand the use of alternative energy sources, but said Russia’s energy imports cannot be stopped overnight.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Nick Ciolino


Nick Ciolino covers the White House.