Washington’s five Puget Sound refineries in 2021 imported $700 million of Russian crude oil, equal to just under 5% of their annual processing capacity, according to an analysis of federal import information by the Seattle-based Sightline Institute.
In the aftermath of Russia President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, President Joe Biden on Tuesday morning announced a ban on Russian oil imports into the United States.
“We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” Biden said in White House remarks.
The five Puget Sound refineries largely process North American crude from Alaska, Canada and the Bakken Formation of North Dakota.
The amount they import from Russia has varied from year to year, according to Sightline Institute’s analysis of federal Energy Information Administration data. From 2009-2021, the refineries imported a total of about 2.1% of their total supplies from Russia, according to the Sightline analysis of federal records.
During that timeframe, Marathon’s Tesoro refinery at Anacortes has been the biggest Russian importer. Overall, the refinery received nearly 7% of its crude from Russia, and last year, the refinery’s Russian imports spiked to more than 20% of its total crude refined, according to the Sightline analysis.
“That’s a huge outlier compared to the other four Puget Sound refineries,” said Zane Gustafson, a senior research associate at Sightline.
S&P Global, a financial reporting service, noted that this year the refinery imported Russian crude as recently as Feb. 22, which was two-days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
Sightline is a policy think tank with a mission of making the Northwest “a global model of sustainability.” Gustafson said that the “fact that our region, depends, even slightly, on Russian oil only adds to the urgency of getting off fossil fuels.”
Marathon Oil‘s refining capacity represents about 18% of the state’s total refining capacity.
BP, which operates the state’s largest oil refinery at Cherry Point in Whatcom County, imported 1.6% of its oil from Russia during the 2009-2021 period.
BP on Feb. 27 announced it would exit shareholding and businesses with Russia’s Roseneft oil company in response to the attack on the Ukraine.
BP still has two tankers, previously contracted, that will deliver oil to the Cherry Point refinery in the weeks ahead but will comply with the U.S. ban on further Russian imports.
BP also will not enter any new transactions loading or discharging at Russian ports, no longer charter Russian-owned or flagged vessels, or charter vessels to Russian counterparts.
“We are currently reviewing our existing contractual commitments, and our other existing businesses in Russia,” said JP Fielder, who heads BP’s U.S. communications.
The move to cut off Russian oil imports will likely add further momentum to a surge in oil prices in U.S. and international markets that has pumped up the profits of oil companies as consumers pay more for gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products.
Oil prices soared to above $130 per barrel for the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures Sunday night, and on Tuesday settled around $124 per barrel. Gas prices hit a record high in Washington, jumping more than 40% from a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for a windfall profits tax and “reasonable price controls” to prevent what he called “price gouging of consumers,” according to a Sanders’ Tweet on Feb. 26.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wa., said Tuesday that oil companies should not be profiting off this crisis or the sacrifice of the American people. “I am looking at every legislative option to hold oil and gas corporations accountable, including a windfall profits tax,” Murray said in a written statement. “And if we can invest in clean energy and hold big oil accountable, so much the better … “
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