Congress Passes Ban on Russian Oil, Natural Gas, Ends Favored Trade Status

The EU will ban Russian coal but isn’t ready to sever energy ties with Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

April 08, 2022

Frozen Siberian Oil Pipeline

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Congress has passed bills that would ban imports of oil, natural gas and coal from Russia, as well as end Russia’s “most-favored nation trade status,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

The bills passed the House last month, but they were bogged down in the Senate. The congressional ban on oil and natural gas is similar to President Biden’s executive order issued last month and codifies the president’s order into law, making it difficult for a future president to reverse it.

“Congress must do what we can to end this brutality and continue to support the Ukrainian people,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The trade bill allows the president to order additional taxes on certain products imported from Russia, as well as Belarus, and while the bill does not specify what products, candidates would include nonenergy products such as aluminum, wood and wood veneer products, and chemicals including fertilizer, according to Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), a co-sponsor of the bill.

Stripping Russia of its most-favored nation status is a largely symbolic step for the U.S., reports the Journal. The U.S. has already banned imports of oil, gas and seafood products including crabmeat, which make up a majority of the purchases.

“This package is about bringing every tool of economic pressure to bear on Vladimir Putin and his oligarch cronies,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-OR), in a statement. “Putin’s Russia does not deserve to be a part of the economic order that has existed since the end of World War II,” he said.

European Union (EU) nations have decided to ban Russian coal, but the countries cannot agree on a more sweeping ban on Russian oil and natural gas, reports the Associated Press.

The coal ban should cost Russia 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) a year, the EU’s executive commission said. However, compared with an oil and natural gas ban, the ban on Russian coal is much easier to implement, as Europe could replace Russian supply in a few months from other countries, including the U.S. The EU pays Russia $20 million a day for coal, but $850 million a day for oil and gas.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent oil prices to record highs and consequently U.S. gas prices. This week, U.S. congressional committees held multiple meetings to see what can be done about skyrocketing gasoline prices. In advance of the hearing, NACS, along with NATSO and SIGMA, sent a joint industry letter, explaining how fuel retail markets work and the four main components of gasoline prices, which are the price of crude, refining costs, taxes, and transportation and marketing costs.

Additionally, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan said that the EPA is looking at biofuel options to help consumers with high gas prices and is considering allowing E15 to be sold this summer.

NACS’ most recent blog post “Do Oil Companies Make Money on High Gas Prices?” looks into how much oil companies profit from gasoline sales.

Join NACS at the State of the Industry (SOI) Summit next week, April 12-14, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Chicago, for industry insights on the latest financial, operational, categorical, regional market and consumer trends in convenience. Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst, OPIS, will provide an analysis of what’s ahead for the fuel sector, and John Benson, director, AlixPartners, will share his economic outlook for the convenience and fuel retailing industry for 2022 and beyond. Register for the SOI Summit today.