South Africa’s energy minister on Wednesday said the country should consider importing crude oil from Russia as part of efforts to curb rising fuel prices, which have soared since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.
“We should consider importing crude oil from Russia at a low price because it is not sanctioned,” Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said during a parliamentary debate on domestic fuel prices.
The United States and the European Union have announced sanctions on Russian oil imports, prompting many oil importers to shun trade with Moscow and pushing spot prices for Russian crude to record discounts against other grades.
But the U.S. and EU sanctions do not formally prohibit consumers outside their jurisdictions from buying Russian oil, and South Africa’s fellow members of the BRICS group of emerging nations India and China have snapped up cheap Russian oil.
South Africa has close historical ties to Moscow due to the Soviet Union’s support for the anti-apartheid struggle.
It abstained from a United Nations vote denouncing the invasion of Ukraine, and last month South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said “bystander countries” were suffering due to sanctions against Russia.
Like governments around the world, South Africa has rolled out subsidies to ease pressure on consumers from higher fuel costs. In May it extended a fuel levy reduction at an estimated cost of R4.5 billion in lost government revenue.