https://hotair.com/ed-morrissey/2022/03/08/breaking-biden-to-finally-ban-russian-oil-imports-n453689

Joe Biden has once again led from behind on Western policy regarding Russia. Well, to be fair, this time he’s more leading from the middle — between the private sector and the governments in the EU. Bloomberg reports that Biden will finally sanction Russian oil imports to the US, although most of Europe will take a pass on such action:

Biden should have made that move at the beginning of the invasion. Russia funds its war efforts by selling its oil and natural gas to the world. Buying Russian imports of energy products directly pays for Vladimir Putin’s war against the Ukrainians.

And let’s face it — Biden got pushed into this by both parties in Congress:

However, by this point the move is more symbolic than substantive. American private-sector energy firms had already begun to cut Russia out of its supplies, and Shell went a step farther this morning before the White House decision:

Energy giant Shell announced Tuesday plans to withdraw from its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil and natural gas, amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

“As an immediate first step, the company will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil. It will also shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia,” Shell said in a statement.

Shell will immediately stop buying Russian crude oil on the spot market and not renew term contracts. The company will also change its crude oil supply chain to remove Russian volumes, but said “this could take weeks to complete and will lead to reduced throughput at some of our refineries.”

In addition, Shell will shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia, and will start a phased withdrawal from Russian petroleum products, pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas.

Other firms announced plans to pull out of Russia almost a week ago, especially on joint ventures that help Russia produce its core economic asset:

ExxonMobil pledged Tuesday to leave its last remaining oil-and-gas project in Russia, and it will not invest in new developments in the oil-rich country.

By moving to discontinue its Sakhalin-1 project in Russia, Exxon joins a growing list of energy companies, including BP and Shell, that have announced their intention to leave Russia. Other Western companies including Apple, Ford and General Motors have also distanced themselves from Moscow in recent days. …

Sakhalin-1 is “one of the largest single international direct investments in Russia,” according to the project’s website. Exxon Neftegas Limited, an Exxon subsidiary, has a 30% stake and serves as the operator. Russia’s Rosneft also owns a stake.

An Exxon spokesperson confirmed to CNN that this is the company’s last remaining Russian project. By quitting this project, Exxon would end more than a quarter-century of continuing business presence in Russia.

Shell’s decision to stop actual purchases of oil goes a step farther, but not that much farther. It would act as an incentive for the other American distributors to follow suit, if for no other reason than to keep from being seen as pro-Russian. Shell’s action more or less forced the White House into a similar calculation — otherwise, Biden risked looking more Russia-sympathetic than his betes noires in the fossil-fuel industry.

That will mean higher prices, unless the US gets more production from somewhere else. We’ll cover that in another post.

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