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UK gives itself until end of 2022 to phase out Russian oil as cost of living soars

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The UK will phase out the import of Russian oil over the next 12 months in response to the invasion of Ukraine and also step up local fracking production, transport minister Grant Shapps has said.

The move is designed to increase the pressure on Russia’s economy by choking off one of its most valuable sources of income.

With the UK still going through a fuel crisis that started months before the war in Ukraine, the phasing out of imports will not be immediate, with time given for supply chains to adjust and support for industry and consumers.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said it would also work with the US, the EU and other partners in a coordinated effort to end dependence on Russian-extracted fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “In another economic blow to the Putin regime following their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK will move away from dependence on Russian oil throughout this year, building on our severe package of international economic sanctions.

“Working with industry, we are confident that this can be achieved over the course of the year, providing enough time for companies to adjust and ensuring consumers are protected.”

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Unprovoked military aggression will not pay and we will continue to support the brave people of Ukraine as they stand up to tyranny, building on our existing sanctions that are already crippling Putin’s war machine.

“We have more than enough time for the market and our supply chains to adjust to these essential changes. Businesses should use this year to ensure a smooth transition so that consumers will not be affected.”

Russian oil is already being ostracised by the market in response to the Ukraine attacks. Nearly 70 per cent of Russian oil is currently struggling to find a buyer and in a competitive global market demand will quickly be met by alternative suppliers.

Foreign countries importing Russian oil currently makes up 44 per cent of Russian exports and 17 per cent of the federal government’s revenue through taxation.

However, Cornwall Insight energy analyst Robert Buckley told the BBC that the UK's ban was “largely symbolic” because only 8 per cent of the country's energy comes from Russia.

Concerns have also been raised over the impact that the move could have on the cost of living, with UK consumers already facing soaring inflation. The RAC Foundation warned that petrol prices could rise to £1.60 a litre this week in the UK and £1.65 soon after, according to the BBC. 

Conservative MP Robert Jenrick, a former housing, communities and local government secretary, told BBC Newsnight that the coming months could be “the most difficult economic year we’ve seen in my lifetime”.

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