Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine was even fully underway, the oil and gas industry was exploiting the humanitarian and geopolitical crisis by calling for increased drilling, and within the next 24 hours the full court press from industry-allied conservatives and Republican officials was in full swing.
Despite the fact that Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia is the significant barrier to a more forceful response by the West to Russian aggression, oil lobby API has sought to weaken sanctions against Russia, Reuters reports. It also called for opening more federal lands to drilling and weakening regulatory safeguards, according to the New York times.
Sanctions and write downs
Oil and gas companies were also among the list of firms (including many lobbyists in the so-called ‘Moscow-to-K-Street pipeline’) scrambling to cut ties with Russia. The oil and gas industry was largely exempt from Western nations’ sanctions, but White House press secretary said energy-targeted sanctions are “certainly on the table.” Exxon’s bank in Russia was among the financial institutions sanctioned by the U.S. BP, the biggest foreign investor in Russia, also dropped its 20% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft (which accounts for about half of BP’s oil and gas reserves and one-third of its extraction), writing down as much as $25 billion.
“It’s pretty rich for the oil and gas industry to talk about how reliable fossil fuels are when any big storm that happens, any time a war pops up, their reliability is thrown into question,” Nathaniel Stinnett, head of the Environmental Voter Project, told the New York Times. “Wars aren’t fought over solar energy. You don’t see these huge price spikes in clean energy.” (Drill baby drill: New York Times $, Truthout; Sanctions: Reuters, Wall Street Journal $; Psaki: ABC; Exxon: Bloomberg $; Lobbyists: CNN; BP: Reuters, Washington Post $, Politico Pro $, The Hill, CNBC, New York Times $, BBC, Axios, CNN)