Did the US Double the Purchase of Russian Oil?

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Reading Time: 3 minutes


On June 9th, lawyer Irakli Zakareishvili published a post on Facebook, claiming that US President Joe Biden had deceived Europe and forced it to give up Russian oil, while the United States itself is buying twice as much oil from Russia as prior to the emergence of Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The claim that the US has doubled its oil purchases from Russia since the emergence of the war in Ukraine is false. The US has imposed an embargo on Russian oil, and the amount of Russian oil coming into the US from the third countries, which is talked about by various sources, has not doubled under the embargo.

Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on March 8th, the US imposed an embargo on Russian oil, natural gas and coal. The initiative was joined by Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. On May 30th, the European Union (EU) decided to ban seaborne imports of Russian oil with a phase-in period of six months for crude oil, which accounts for 90% of the country’s oil purchases. It should be noted that even before this decision, some countries and companies voluntarily restricted the purchase of Russian natural resources.

Import volume of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia in the United States from July 2020 to February 2022

Compared to January 2022, the US imported twice as much oil from Russia in February (16,400,000 barrels). Interestingly, this figure was still high in March (17825000 barrels) despite the embargo. However, this has its own explanation, which is reflected in the fact that this batch of oil was purchased before the imposition of sanctions and presumably before the start of the war, while the delivery of Russian oil to America by ships takes a long time. In order to replace the Russian product, in April 2022, the US bought the largest amount of oil from Latin America in the last seven months.

Despite the imposed restrictions, the amount of Russian oil sold in Europe in April increased significantly compared to March. The Wall Street Journal revealed the ways in which Russia could sell additional quantities of oil. The first by covering the destination, meaning that the tankers loaded with Russian oil indicate the following in the official documents: “The destination is unknown.” The oil is then loaded on large ships in the middle of the sea, where it interferes with other cargo and, as a result, hides its origin. Notably, this way alone, in April, more than 11 million barrels of oil were loaded on ships passing through Russian ports. This way, procurement companies try to maintain a reputation and avoid certain sanctions in the future. The use of such tactics is not novel and has been used during the embargoes imposed on Iran and Venezuela.

The second important part that is directly related to the US is the increased demand for Russian oil by Indian companies. This is primarily due to the low price of Russian products. As a result, since the start of the war, India has been importing 20% ​​of its oil imports from Russia, amounting to 800,000 barrels per day, while a figure was 30,000 barrels per day in the pre-war period. As a result, Indian companies are processing Russian crude oil, mixing it with products purchased from other countries, refining it into gasoline and diesel, which are then sold, some of which are likely to be found in the United States. According to Matt Smith, an oil analyst, in such a case, it is virtually impossible to determine which products purchased from India contain Russian oil.

Considering the fact that India imports more than 20% of its oil from Russia and then sells a quarter of the imported oil to the US, it is impossible for large quantities of Russian products to enter the US market this way.

The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.

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Topic: Politics
Violation: Disinformation

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