The United States will ban imports of oil and natural gas from Russia, President Biden announced Tuesday. I’ve tried to pin down the exact timing and implementation of the ban (I don’t see these details in the executive order as released by the White House), but without much success. The best I can say right now is the ban will take complete effect by the end of 2022.
U.S. allies in Europe also announced action on the energy front with a plan to cut natural gas imports from Russia by two-thirds in 2022.
Even though the White House has said that the long-lead time on the ban would give importers and consumers time to find other sources by the end of 2022, oil futures soared today with the price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, climbing to $126.98 a barrel, up 6.35%, for April delivery as of 12:30 p.m. in New York. International benchmark Brent creek rose 6.52%to $131.24 a barrel for April delivery.
The price jump is simply a recognition that it will be hard, no, make that very hard, to replace the 8 million barrels a day of crude and petroleum products that Russia exports every day.. About 60% of Russia’s oil exports go to Europe, while 8% go to the United States and 20% to China.
There’s lot of talk today about replacing Russian natural gas and oil with (in Europe) more imports of liquified natural gas, and (in the United States and Europe) of increasing the amount of electricity produced from by wind and solar sources.
Even though financial markets know that any effort to ramp up energy production from these alternative sources will take quite some time, alternative energy stocks are up strongly today with solar stocks such as SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) and Sunrun (RUN) up 9.64% and 10.67% respectively, today as of 12:30 p.m. in New York. Wind farm developer Orsted (DNNGY) had climbed 10.35%. Electric vehicle charging stocks such was EVgo (EVGO) and Chargepoint (CHPT), are ahead 8.91% and 6.20%, respectively. Lithium recycling startup LiCycle (LICY) has gained 15.78% and lithium producer Albemarle (ALB) is higher by 4.42%.
Prices of oil stocks themselves are broadly down on what looks to be a continuation of profit taking (after all this ban was the news that traders in these stocks were looking for.) ConocoPhillips (COP) was down 3.22% and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) was lower by 3.33%. I think some of the selling also comes from investors who were hoping to see more cash flow at these companies diverted to dividends and less going to spending on new exploration and development. The far now, I suspect, is that higher oil prices will tempt these producers away from that financial discipline.
Don’t underestimate buying of stocks that have been crushed recently even if the logic about why a company would benefit from higher oil prices was, well, let’s just say, weak. Airlines, for example, were higher even though the ban means higher prices for jet fuel. As of 12:30 p.m. New York time American Airlines (AAL) was up 9.70%, United Airlines (UAL) had gained 7.47%, and Delta Air Lines (DAL) was higher by 8.14%.