The Repeated Rises and Falls of U.S. Imports of Russian Crude Oil

From time to time, we take on the challenge of telling a complex story through a picture. The story of the crude oil imported by the United States from Russia is just that kind of story because of all the economics and geopolitics involved.

Here's the picture, spanning the years from January 2009 through March 2022, in which we see U.S. imports of Russian crude oil rise and fall multiple times, each driven by different factors.

Barrels of Crude Oil Imported from Russia by U.S., January 2009 - March 2022

Here's the information the chart is expressing:

November 2018
December 2019
  • A Decade in Which Fracking Rocked the Oil World
    • U.S.-produced crude oil began displacing Russian crude oil imports in the U.S. from January 2011, rising on the fracking boom that continued all the way up to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which crashed oil prices and crippled the domestic industry. It still hasn't recovered, but we'll touch on that story again in this timeline.

From here, we'll let the headlines tell the most recent part of the story, which will begin from top of the latest peak in the U.S.' crude oil imports from Russia. Spoiler alert: they involve lots of new sanctions and actions that have contributed to today's much higher oil prices.

August 2021
September 2021
December 2021
January 2022
February 2022
March 2022

That ends the period covered on the chart, with Russian crude oil imports falling once again. But before any Biden administration official might celebrate the apparent success of their anti-Russia sanctions, there are two more breaking news stories that explains why they've so far failed to achieve the success they hoped for.

In addressing domestic oil production, the Biden administration isn't as powerless as it makes itself out to be. It can take positive steps to boost and stabilize domestic oil production, such as lifting regulatory burdens and underwriting and insuring new investments to minimize the economic risks for producers that haven't recovered from the coronavirus pandemic crash. A good question to ask is why aren't they?


U.S. Energy Information Administration. U.S. Imports from Russia of Crude Oil. [Online Database]. Accessed 11 June 2022.

U.S. Energy Information Administration. U.S. Crude Oil Production. [Online Database]. Accessed 11 June 2022.