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11 Jan, 2024 12:28

US buying Russian oil despite import ban – media

In November alone, Washington reportedly purchased nearly 10,000 barrels of sanctioned crude
US buying Russian oil despite import ban – media

The US has continued to buy Russian oil despite being a staunch proponent of anti-Russia sanctions and its own ban from early 2022 on energy imports from the country, news outlet RBK reported on Thursday, citing data from America’s foreign trade statistics database.

According to the report, the US imported nearly 10,000 barrels of Russian crude – worth $749,500 – in November 2023. While Washington’s oil restrictions, introduced amid broader Western sanctions against Moscow in response to the Ukraine conflict, prohibit imports of crude from the country, they still allow some purchases of it under special licenses from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The imports in November are believed to be the first US purchases of oil directly from Russia since the ban was imposed. However, the US has continued to buy the commodity from third countries, according to a recent report by Global Witness, based on Kpler ship-tracking data. The think tank found that, in the first three quarters of last year, the US imported 30 million barrels of fuel from refineries running on Russian oil. These purchases were made through what the agency called a “refining loophole,” which allowed the oil to enter the US once it’s been transported outside Russia and refined.

In addition to the US embargo, Russian seaborne oil is also subject to the G7 and EU price caps. That measure, introduced in late 2022, banned Western companies from providing insurance and other services to shipments of Russian crude unless the cargo is purchased at or below the $60-per-barrel price limit, and placed similar restrictions on Russian petroleum products. The cap was not enforced until October 2023, when the US started trying to close loopholes in the mechanism by sanctioning oil tankers and maritime companies suspected of transporting Russian oil above the price limit set by G7/EU.

However, according to market experts the new restrictions are unlikely to be a serious impediment to Russia’s oil trade. Despite numerous restrictions, Russian oil exports last year amounted to roughly 250 million tons, 7% higher than in 2021, prior to the Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions.

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