International pushes and pulls are a big part of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. As Ukraine institutes a state of emergency and its allies increase pressure on Russia through sanctions and more, the question of American involvement comes to fruition. The U.S. is a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nation and Ukraine ally, but it’s also a big supporter of Russian oil exports.
For Ukraine, having the U.S. on its side could be a good thing if the U.S. uses oil purchases as leverage to negotiate with Russia. However, war—or the threat of it—doesn't tend to be a logical or straightforward process. A military conflict could also increase the cost of much-needed oil in the U.S., where oil prices are already rising.
Russia is a big supplier of U.S. oil.
While oil exports from Russia to the U.S. fluctuate month to month, Russia is consistently one of the largest suppliers of oil to the U.S. In May 2021, Russia became the nation providing the second-largest sum of oil to America at 25.08 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products. At the time, Russia was topped only by Canada, which provided 125.75 million barrels.
How much oil does the U.S. get from Russia?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Russia contributed the following number of barrels of crude oil and petroleum products to the U.S. over the course of 2021:
January: 20.104 million
February: 12.691 million
March: 22.938 million
April: 20.641 million
May: 26.171 million
June: 25.427 million
July: 23.595 million
August: 24.637 million
September: 18.887 million
October: 19.679 million
November: 17.855 million
December: Not reported at the time of publication
The U.S. and Russia are both huge oil producers. However, the U.S. uses a lot more oil than Russia. As a result, the U.S. experiences oil price volatility more easily than Russia, which banks on higher prices.
In late 2021, Russia supplied 7 percent of U.S. crude oil imports and accounted for a large portion of the total oil supply in the U.S.
Russian oil imports in U.S. have increased over time.
EIA data tells us that Russia has provided more oil to the U.S. over time. In 1995, the U.S. bought an average of about 756,000 barrels of oil from Russia per month. By 2010, the monthly average was about 18.6 million barrels.
What could Russian sanctions mean for U.S. oil prices?
As of Feb. 23, the average gallon of gas costs U.S. consumers more than $3.53. That’s up from more than $2.64 this time last year, according to AAA data. Prices are climbing and global supply chains are already bottlenecked. It’s possible a war could increase gas prices in the U.S. and around the world, ultimately burdening governments and consumers.