The Texan Shell anticipates the blockade of Washington, closes its gas stations and interrupts its relationship with Gazprom
“Putin right now is frustrated and angry at the Ukrainian resistance and will most likely double down on it to crush it, no matter what casualties it causes.” That is the analysis of the CIA, whose director David Burns declared this Tuesday in Congress. He has to tighten his belt and cut off Russian oil before the Ukrainian massacre explodes further in the consciences of the world.
President Joe Biden’s decision to prohibit the entry of Russian crude into US ports was more forceful and less painful than that of the European allies (700,000 barrels compared to 4.6 million), but high risk in an election year. As much as the war in Ukraine has brought unusual communion with the opposition, there is no doubt that it will take advantage of the price of gasoline to win back Congress in November.
Hence, it was Biden himself who reminded Americans yesterday how much gasoline has risen since the conflict began, 13 days earlier: 70 euro cents. The president, who has already chosen to preemptively boycott Russian military intentions by announcing them in public before they materialize, is thus anticipating political accusation, pointing to Putin and his military campaign as “the cause of rising prices at gas stations” .
There are no half measures. “Defending freedom is going to cost us,” she warned. The president has promised to do everything in his power to minimize the damage, including releasing 16 million barrels of oil from his reserves. Unlike Donald Trump, who drew blood with the United States’ greatest contribution to world peace, Biden defended European allies, who cannot break with Russian supply because “the United States produces much more oil than all the European countries combined.” » he recalled. “In fact, we are net exporters of energy, so we can take actions that others cannot.” However, the United Kingdom announced hours later that it will stop importing Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022. “This transition will give the market, companies and supply chains more than enough time to substitute Russian imports, which represent the 8% of our demand,” said Business and Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng.
The private sector ahead
From the private sector they were ahead of him. Earlier in the day, Shell announced that it will stop buying Russian crude oil and hydrocarbons, becoming the first major Western company to close its gas stations in Russia. The energy sector was until now one of the few exempt from the draconian sanctions, which Biden describes as “the most significant in history.” Shell reacted to the pressure of public opinion, which blames it for being an accomplice in the massacre and speaks of “bloody oil”.
The Texas company has shares with the Russian state Gazprom, of which it is a 27.5% partner in the Sakhalin 2 LNG plant, among others. Its chief executive, Ben van Beurden, has publicly apologized for buying an entire shipment of Russian crude last week as the Russian army lashed out at civilians in Ukraine. “We are painfully aware that it was not the right decision, we are very sorry,” he apologized.
With that, it forces other rivals, such as BP, to follow its example, but the cascade of private initiatives leaving Russia is unstoppable. McDonald announced yesterday the “temporary” closure of his own premises in the country (84% of the 847 that bear his seal there), where he employs 62,000 people. Starbucks (170 stores) and Coca-Cola will also cease operations, while Pepsi will stop selling its soft drinks but will keep other plants open, for example, one that makes dairy products and employs 20,000 people. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Ford, Nike. up to a total of 107 multinationals have already left Putin’s country. “The ruble is now worth less than a US cent,” Biden recalled when thanking the private company.
Washington turns to the ‘enemy’
For a moment it seemed that Russia’s economic decline could have a domino effect on other autocratic regimes around the world that it finances, but no, it will actually be their salvation.
For the first time in years, last weekend, a US delegation visited Caracas to negotiate with Nicolás Maduro the end of the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump to sink his regime by closing US ports and refineries. Maduro was receptive and eager to restore relations with the ’empire’.
In Vienna, the world powers underpin the reestablishment of the nuclear agreement with Iran, which would allow sanctions on its oil to be lifted, if Russia does not complicate it with last-minute requests. Moscow knows that the West is looking for oil to replace its own, which is why it has recommended that Iran ask for guarantees that the agreement will survive Biden’s term.
The American even plans a visit to Saudi Arabia to convince the monarch to help stabilize the price of crude oil. Mohammed bin Salman, who US intelligence says approved of the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi, also has a lot to gain