WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will take steps to ensure that its sanctions against Russia over Ukraine don’t drive up energy prices — and will act to lower prices if they do, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
U.S. sanctions stop ahead of measures that could curb oil and gas exports out of Russia, official says, as U.S. seeks to harm Russia’s economy while avoiding collateral damage to states -United.
“The sanctions that are being imposed today and that may be imposed in the near future do not and will not target oil and natural gas flows,” the official told reporters.
“Doing anything that affects…or stops energy transactions would have a significant impact on the United States, American citizens, and our allies. Our intention here, therefore, is to impose the strongest possible sanctions while trying to protect the American public and the rest of the world from these measures,” the official said.
Oil prices have risen as demand rebounds from pandemic lows, and the threat of disruptions in international energy markets is exacerbating this trend. Benchmark Brent crude rose 1.5% to settle at $96.84 a barrel on Tuesday.
U.S. officials are also working closely with other countries to ensure more supply comes to market if prices rise, the official added.
This could include releasing government-owned oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as the Biden administration did last year. But that won’t happen as long as prices remain stable, the official said.
U.S. officials have spoken with countries around the world, including the Middle East and Asia, that have been reluctant to join the United States in other recent reserve releases.
Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations have told U.S. officials in recent meetings that they understand the need to maintain market stability given the ongoing international crisis, and the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine is likely to make major consumer countries in Asia, such as China, more likely to continue working with the United States on reserve releases than they have been on releases than the United States have claimed in recent months, the official said.