As the war in Ukraine persists, the West continues to economically punish Putin for his actions. On March 8, the United States banned oil, liquified gas and coal imports from Russia. Such actions have immediate consequences for domestic energy consumption, as the US consumes approximately 672,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia. Already plagued by rising energy prices, the Biden administration is looking for alternative ways to make up the shortfall caused by the ban.
Surprisingly, the President sent a delegation to Venezuela to speak with President Nicolas Maduro. The purpose of the delegation was allegedly to explore the possibility of making up the shortfall by importing oil from Venezuela.
Such a move would be a dramatic change from current US policy. Maduro has previously been indicted in the United States for drug trafficking. He is not even officially recognized as the legitimate president of the country, as the State Department recognizes Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.
There has not been any confirmation about a response from president Maduro. But there has been considerable blowback from both sides of the aisle, which has resulted in a temporary pause to the talks. It is also possible that Maduro simply declined the offer, and the White House has used the political noise as an excuse as to why there has not been any movement on a deal.
Even if a deal was reached, at its current level of production, Venezuelan oil will not solve the problem.
Many energy experts have argued that the solution to the shortfall lies here at home. America was close to being energy independent before Biden took office, but the current administration’s policies have resulted in the country becoming a net importer again. Opening dormant pipelines and allowing for new leases on federal land would decrease America’s dependence on dictators like Maduro and dealing with countries committing rampant human rights abuses such as Saudi Arabia. Until the United States get serious about energy independence, it will continue to be forced to seek out foreign sources of oil from leaders that do not share our values.