As Washington “defends energy independence” for Europe and imposes sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, US refineries are buying more Russian oil than ever.
Last year, Russia ousted Saudi Arabia as the second largest supplier of crude oil and its derivatives to the US, supplying an average of 538,000 barrels a day.
After years of accounting for less than 0.5% of annual US imports of oil and oil products, Russia steadily increased its share over the past decade, hitting an all-time high of 7% in 2020, according to calculations by Bloomberg News.
The increase was achieved mainly thanks to oil derivatives, and is attributable to the imposition of sanctions on Venezuela, which traditionally sent a considerable part of its heavy oil to US refineries.
“Having lost Venezuelan crude and facing less and more expensive feedstock from the traditional OPEC suppliers, they have become a major customer for Russian fuel oil as a substitute,” said Adi Imsirovic, fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
However, the growing dependence of the United States on Russian oil is at odds with US energy diplomacy, observes Javier Blas in his article for the US media outlet.
For the past several years, lawmakers in Washington have been pressuring European countries to abandon the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that will bring Russian gas to Germany. The US fears that the Kremlin will gain greater influence over its allies. However, some analysts argue that the US actually wants to sell its own shale gas to Europe.
The funny thing is that the increase in imports of Russian crude to the US has not caused any concern in Washington.
“Russia’s move to third place hasn’t attracted any attention in Washington,” says Bob McNally, a former White House policy adviser who now heads Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm.
In addition, in March President Joe Biden called his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, a “murderer.”
The quiet surge in Russian oil imports further shows that the mantra of energy independence championed by former US President Donald Trump is empty rhetoric, said Mark Finley, a former CIA oil analyst who is now a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston.
Trump boasted that the United States was the “No. 1 energy superpower” and the country would never again have to rely on “hostile” foreign suppliers.
For the Russian analyst Natalia Dembínskaya it is clear that this is another example of the double standards of US policy, applied this time in the energy sector.
Featured image: © AP Photo / David J. Phillip.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune