How Will the Russian Oil Ban Impact the Bay Area?

This morning, American President Joe Biden announced a ban on the import of Russian oil to the United States. With our heavy industry, agriculture, and car-obssed culture, California tends to feel oils shocks especially acutely. Historically, we’ve also had some of the highest oil prices in America, even without the ongoing war in Ukraine. What impact will the Russian oil ban have on the Bay Area?

To answer that question, it helps to turn to an industry source that–although its mission can be controversial in the era of climate change–has been gathering oil statistics since 1902. The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) is an industry trade group for the American oil industry. They recently published an article about the impact of Russian oil on the USA, and especially on different regions within America.

According to the AFPM, the United States imports about 209,000 barrels of crude oil from Russia each day. (We import other petroleum products, too, making the overall total higher). Still, that represents only about 3% of American oil imports. We get much more oil from Canada than we do from Russia.

The Ban Will Still Impact the Bay Area

Still, banning Russian oil imports will have a big impact across the country, and especially here in the Bay Area. Why? For one thing, the AFPM says that imports of Russian oil have increased over the last several years, as supplies of oil from other places like Nigeria have been reduced here on the West Coast.

The AFPM also says that “U.S. West Coast (USWC) refineries rely on imports of light sweet crude oil from other countries, including Russia, because access to U.S. produced light sweet crude oil is challenged by geography, transportation and logistics.”

In other words, the West Coast has less access to domestic supplies of certain types of oil, mainly due to logistics challenges. For that reason, we may be especially impacted by Russian oil bans here in the American West.

Gas Prices Will Keep Increasing

Gas prices in the Bay Area have already surged, reaching more than $6 per gallon in some places. They’re likely to continue trending higher due to the Russian ban. Again, Californian refiners will be impacted by the removal of Russian oil. The AFPM also says that the war in Ukraine will impact global supplies of oil overall. That volitilty leads to higher prices at the pump.

The bottom line? A mix of factors already drove Bay Area gas prices off the charts. Those include supply disruption during Covid, increased driving, and more. The war in Ukraine already added at least $1 to gallon to those prices. Now the ban will likely push prices even higher. $7 per gallon gas is definitely a possibility.

Still, most Bay Area residents would agree that it’s worth paying that price to support Ukraine in the ongoing conflict.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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