California Imported more than 15 million barrels of oil from Russia in 2021, providing billions to Putin

California should get its oil locally, not from aggressive dictators.

State Senator Shannon Grove called on Governor Gavin Newsom today to stop the importation of crude oil from Russia and instead depend on in-state producers from her district who could easily ramp up local production if the governor’s agencies processed permits in a timely manner.

Last year, Russia was the source of 15,477,000 barrels of crude oil imported into California according to the Energy Information Agency.

Just today,  Newsom signed an executive order directing state agencies and departments to ensure their contractors are complying with economic sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. The action follows the governor’s letter this week calling for state pension funds to halt the flow of money from the state to Russia and to ban the purchase of Russian debt.

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“What good does it do for us to divest in Russian assets on the one hand, then send Putin billions of dollars for imported crude on the other?” Grove asked.

California is an “energy island” when it comes to oil since there are no inter-state pipelines that carry crude from the other lower-48 states. Therefore, every barrel of oil Californians consume that is not produced in-state must be tankered into our crowded ports from foreign countries to meet the state’s energy needs.

As in-state production has been curtailed by a lack of permits from the state Geologic Energy Management Division, California has steadily been increasing its reliance on imported crude. Since 2018, in-state production has fallen nearly 20 percent from 463,000 barrels a day to under 374,000 barrels today.

However, there are currently more than 1,000 permits for new production wells from in-state oil producers sitting on CalGEM’s desk, some that are over four years old. Production from these wells alone could easily supplant all Russian imports.

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The conflict in Ukraine is only going to make California more vulnerable to price swings. Rising global energy costs are already having a direct impact at the pump, with gas prices in Southern California hitting a recent high of $6.15 per gallon. Currently, the average price for a gallon of gas is $4.79, and last year, it was $3.36. Californians already pay $1.24 more per gallon of gasoline than the national average.

“Now is the time for us to get our energy from our own backyard, put Californians to work, increase tax receipts for vital programs, and stop sending our wealth to thugs that are terrorizing the world,” Grove said.