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An oil ban leaves the world with less supply as the US and Europe face the fastest inflation in decades. File image.
An oil ban leaves the world with less supply as the US and Europe face the fastest inflation in decades. File image.
Image: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

European countries already reeling from record inflation risk aggravating their plight with the decision to shut themselves off from Russian oil imports.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen promises the planned embargo will be implemented “in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes”, but German economy minister Robert Habeck has warned the region’s top economy will suffer, citing possible shortages and further upward pressure on prices.

The step is seen as more manageable than disrupting flows of Russian natural gas. But an oil ban leaves the world with less supply as the US and Europe face the fastest inflation in decades alongside wilting confidence because of the war in Ukraine.

“Russian oil can be replaced on the world market in the short term, but with additional costs and logistical challenges,” German industry trade group BDI said this week. “Given the oil embargo, energy prices will probably to continue to rise.”

The EU has long agonised over whether it can withstand being cut off from a top energy supplier, having received more than a quarter of its oil imports from Russia last year.

Natural gas, which mostly flows through pipelines, is harder to replace and deliveries of liquefied fuel by sea from other suppliers couldn’t cover the shortfall.

European countries already reeling from record inflation risk aggravating their plight with the decision to shut themselves off from Russian oil imports.
European countries already reeling from record inflation risk aggravating their plight with the decision to shut themselves off from Russian oil imports.
Image: Bloomberg

The IMF reckons EU output in 2023 would be about 3% lower without Russian oil and gas imports.

For Germany, the Bundesbank says activity is at risk of shrinking nearly 2% this year if an energy embargo leads to restrictions on power providers and industry.

Some analysts have argued that the impact would be less severe, and that the economy would be able to handle the shock. 

Berenberg economist Holger Schmieding says Europe could phase out Russian oil by year-end without causing shortages and dramatic price increases.

UBS Global Wealth Management said that while the impact of the embargo on Europe’s economic growth is likely to be “manageable”, uncertainty over supplies will probably “keep energy prices supported”. 

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