The Russian cargoes are arriving as U.S. demand for the fuel stands at a three-year high. The growing proportion of Russian imports is another illustration of the nation’s critical role in supplying the world with oil. Geopolitical tensions have markets on edge as the U.S. has said it will respond with sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, a move Russia has said it isn’t planning to make.
The U.S. East Coast is especially reliant on imported diesel because refining capacity has shrunk in recent years due to poor margins and an explosion. Diesel inventories have fallen to the lowest for this time of year since 2014. The Northeast is relying more heavily on oil-fired generators for electricity as natural gas prices have surged.
The other main suppliers to the U.S. are facing problems of their own – Europe is grappling with its energy shortage and refinery outages while Canada was forced to shut an east coast refinery early in the pandemic.