The United States is considering imposing a ban on Russian oil and gas despite European countries’ reluctance to level similar measures, The Hill reports.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that he is in “active discussions” with European allies about a ban on Russian oil but the U.S. may have to go it alone.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged Congress to take up a bill to “ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization.”
The legislative push comes after the Biden administration also requested $10 billion for "humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine.”
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill in the Senate to ban Russian oil imports.
“The United States cannot continue to purchase millions of barrels of oil while Putin wages an unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.
Europe, which heavily relies on Russian energy, has been far more reluctant about banning Russian oil and gas.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday ruled out an oil ban.
“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions," he said. “At the moment, Europe's supply of energy for heat generation, mobility, power supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way. It is therefore of essential importance for the provision of public services and the daily lives of our citizens."
Scholz said Europe has been “working hard for months” to develop alternatives to Russian energy but “this cannot be done overnight.”
"That is why it is a conscious decision on our part to continue the activities of business enterprises in the area of energy supply with Russia," he said.
Energy prices soar:
Energy prices have soared since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Oil prices hit as high as $138 per barrel before falling to $120 on Monday.
European energy prices have gone far higher. Futures on the Dutch TTF exchange hit 345 euros per megawatt-hour, the equivalent of oil hitting $500 per barrel.
Russia accounts for about 10% of the world’s oil supply and about 60% of its oil exports flow to Europe.
But natural gas is an even bigger issue. About one-third of Europe’s natural gas supplies come from Russia.
“It is so expensive that you are going to drive utilities into steep losses,” Henning Gloystein, a director at the Eurasia Group, a political risk firm, told the New York Times.