US companies will be allowed to buy seaborne Russian oil if they adhere to a price ceiling agreed by allied countries, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in preliminary guidance published on Friday.
According to the document, the US will ban “services related to the maritime transportation of… seaborne Russian oil” from December 5, and services related to petroleum products from February 5, 2023.
The ban will not apply to buying Russian fuel at or below a price cap which will be established by the “coalition of countries including the G7 and the EU.” If the rule is followed, services such as insurance and refueling can be provided to ships.
Importers or refiners who wish to purchase Russian oil below the price cap will have to provide transport service providers with documents proving compliance.
Buyers who pay more than the cap or knowingly provide false information will face legal probes and potential fines.
The document gives no indication of the price ceiling level, but says additional guidance will be issued after consultations with the other countries involved.
The Group of Seven countries (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) agreed to impose a price limit on Russian oil in early September. The stated goal is to reduce Russia’s ability to finance military action in Ukraine, while also easing the situation on the global oil market.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak recently called the price cap a “complete absurdity” and warned that Russia could stop supplying oil to countries that support the scheme.