Congressional Democrats are urging US refiners to stop importing oil from Russia in a bid to escalate pressure on the Kremlin a week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Bobby Rush, the Democratic chair of the House Energy Subcommittee, and Jerry McInerney, another Democrat on the subcommittee, wrote to the industrial refinery group calling on its members to stop buying Russian crude oil and partially refined products.
In the letter to US fuel and petrochemical manufacturers, which was seen by the Financial Times, the lawmakers wrote: “Since any purchases of Russian barrels will now fund its war with Ukraine, the continuation of this activity has become unreasonable.”
Separately, Jack Reed, the Democratic chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tweeted on Wednesday: “Russian oil imports must be halted. Our domestic supplies are sufficient.”
The United States imported about 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia last year, or about 3 percent of total imports, according to Agence France-Presse. But it also imported another 500,000 barrels per day of other petroleum products, which is nearly two-thirds of all the incomplete oil imported by US refineries, according to consultancy Rapidan Energy Group.
The latest figures from the US Energy Information Administration show that the largest buyers of Russian oil include ExxonMobil.
Joe Biden, the US president, has said he is open to an oil embargo on Russia. But while its officials debate the wisdom of doing so, many oil buyers are already moving to stop buying supplies from Russia.
Valero Energy, a Texas-based refiner that imports heavily from Russia, has reportedly halted all future purchases of Russian oil. Russia’s Urals crude is now trading at a record discount of more than $18 a barrel as the country’s producers struggle to find buyers.
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