Sanctions on Russian oil cause repercussion for Ohio drivers

Sophie Young, Reporter

As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, the consequences are reaching new heights across the world – and gas prices are rising along with them.

Today in Kent, the average price is $4 per gallon. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late Feb., filling up the tank hurts more than ever.

“You don’t want to go and fill up your tank and pay a hefty amount of money while, you know, two weeks ago, one month ago you were paying 15 to 20 percent less,” economics professor Omid Bagheri said.

President Biden and Germany imposed sanctions on Russian oil before Putin decided to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24. The day before, Biden targeted Russia’s state-controlled oil company even though Germany relies heavily on this oil as an energy source.

Despite that proactive action, tensions between Russia and Ukraine continued to develop into a full-blown war. This resulted in two more sanctions: banning technology Russia’s oil industry needs for production on March 2 and halting imports of Russian oil, coal and natural gas into the United States.

“Oil does not have so many suppliers in the world – a handful of countries can provide a supply [of] oil because they have reservoirs,” Bagheri said. “Russia is one of the biggest ones, not just for oil, but for oil and natural gas.”

The United States imported 8.47 million barrels per day of petroleum from 73 countries in 2021. Russia was within the top five supplying countries, selling eight percent of the barrels the United States buys – much less than top supplier Canada, coming in at 51 percent.

“Unfortunately, due to all the environmental problems, the world is very much dependent on oil for its energy source,” Bagheri said. “That makes the oil industry, or oil market very sensitive to any shock.”

The supply of oil decreases worldwide as countries stop buying from Russia. This, in turn, causes the demand to increase – and prices to increase along with it.

“Also the supply is affected… because Russia is one of the big suppliers in the market,” Bagheri said. “So the price of gas– it’s going up.”

This has fluctuated with reports of changes in the war, as Bagheri said “oil is very sensitive to news.” He said the media’s impact, as well as developing news, can cause demand to increase quickly as countries attempt to stockpile.

“Of course, whenever we have some type of, you know, some hope for a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia, this fear is gonna subside a little bit and the price of gas and crude oil goes down temporarily,” Bagheri said.

The influence of these fluctuations trickles down to Ohio, where gas prices rose from an average of $3.05 in January and $3.30 in February to around 4 dollars – climbing about 20 to 30 percent.

“Russia was supplying one of the most important things. And then when we make it harder for them to sell, we are not going to have enough of it,” Bagheri said. “When we don’t have enough of it, we will be affected and the prices go up.”

Western countries’ sanctions on the Russian economy have “inevitable” consequences for everyone, according to Bagheri.

“It is important that we understand what is happening. We are paying the cost because as human beings we are trying to support Ukrainian people.”

Sophie Young is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].