US says sanctions on Russian energy ‘on the table’

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing on the US response after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, at the White House in Washington, USA , February 24, 2022. REUTERS / Leah Millis

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WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) – The United States is “very open” to imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry as it also assesses the potential impact on the market, the White House said on Wednesday. as world oil prices hit eight-year highs and supply disruptions multiplied.

In television interviews, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that while Washington was still considering hitting Moscow’s vast energy sector following Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the impact on global oil markets and US energy prices was a key factor.

When asked if Washington and its Western allies would impose energy sanctions on Russia, Psaki told MSNBC, “We’re very open.”

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“We are thinking about it. It’s totally on the table, but we have to weigh what all the impacts will be,” she added.

Although the United States has yet to target Russian oil sales as part of its sweeping economic sanctions following the invasion, American traders have already moved to suspend such imports, disrupting energy markets.

The Biden administration has warned it could block Russian oil if Moscow continues its aggression against Kyiv. However, PSAki said the White House is considering how it might shake up markets.

“It’s something that we weigh heavily,” she told CNN separately.

Oil prices hit a high of $113 a barrel on Wednesday, nearly a week after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Meanwhile, OPEC+ oil producers meeting on Wednesday agreed to stick to their modest output increases, offering little relief to the market or consumers. Read more

“We want to minimize the impact on the global market and that includes the global oil market and the impact of energy prices for the American people,” Psaki said. “We are not trying to hurt ourselves, we are trying to hurt President Putin and the Russian economy.”

On Tuesday, the United States and its allies agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves to help offset supply disruptions.

Meanwhile, the United States is preparing a set of sanctions targeting more Russian oligarchs and their businesses and assets, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Read more

Previous sanctions have hit the Russian banking sector, among other targets.

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Reporting by Susan Heavey; additional reporting by Doina Chicau; edited by Louise Heavens, Mark Heinrich and Nick Zieminski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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