• Monday, July 15, 2024
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US, U.K. set to ban Russian oil imports as early as Tuesday

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The U.S. and the U.K. will impose a ban on imports of Russian energy on Tuesday without the participation of European allies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. ban will include Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal, according to two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The decision was made in consultation with European allies, who rely more heavily than the U.S. on Russian energy, another person said.

The U.K. move will be done in concert with the U.S. and the ban will be phased in over the coming months, according to the person, who requested anonymity speaking about policy that hasn’t yet been announced. The ban won’t apply to Russian gas, the person said.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement owing to its sensitivity. Spokespeople for the White House National Security Council declined to immediately comment.

Crude oil futures extended gains on the news, with the US crude grade WTI rising 4% to $124.21 at 8:19 a.m. in New York. The prospect of an oil import ban is helping drive crude to its highest levels since 2008.

The accelerated move comes as Congress had been getting ready to take action this week ahead of the White House. That put pressure on the Biden administration to move more quickly.

Read also: Russia/Ukraine conflict: Energy embargo could send oil prices over $300

Russia’s gas and oil had so far been mostly spared from sanctions introduced by the U.S. and European countries, due to concern over the economic impact, particularly on Europe, which has greater dependence on Russian oil and, in particular, natural gas. Canada’s government announced last month that it intended to ban all crude oil imports from Russia, but the move was largely symbolic — the country hasn’t imported any since 2019.

The White House as of Monday said no decision had been made.

“Those discussions are ongoing internally and also with our counterparts and partners in Europe and around the world,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. Europe imports far more oil from Russia than the U.S. does, she said. “So, obviously, we are also very well aware as we’re having these conversations and as we’re consulting with our partners that there would be — we have different capacities and capabilities.”

Russian oil made up about 3% of all the crude shipments that arrived in the U.S. last year, U.S. Energy Information Administration data show. Overall, imports of Russian oil and petroleum products represented about 8% of the U.S. total. U.S. imports of Russian crude in 2022 have dropped to the slowest annual pace since 2017, according to the intelligence firm Kpler.