As food costs rise amid broader inflation, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Tuesday she does not expect an interruption to summer

Florida Ag Commissioner Blames Putin For Gas Prices, As Global Market For Oil Swells

Floridians might be able to forgive flailing state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who each day appears to lose more ground to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, her main rival to be the Democratic nominee in the upcoming governor’s race.

On Twitter on Wednesday, she once again lashed out at Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. She urged DeSantis to declare a state of emergency, which would open a gap in state law and allow gas stations to sell fuel at below their cost.

“We need to be doing everything possible to help lower prices for Floridians in need,” said Fried, whose agency oversees gas sales, “and I am eager to take this step to lower gas prices.”

Which, she added, “have risen as a direct result of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

Setting aside the fact that U.S. prices escalated dramatically during President Joe Biden’s first 12 months in office, which were before the Ukraine war began, a counterargument might be that prices are rising because the Western embargo on Russian oil is not working.

And as the U.S. and Europe suffer accordingly, Putin is actually doing his part to keep the world oil market flush with crude.

The problem – for Americans – is that only two countries are buying.

Blackout News, a German website, reported that Russian oil exports are actually rising last week.

“In the second month of the war against Ukraine,” the website noted, “Russia exported more oil than a year earlier, despite the oil embargo. And this despite the fact that several countries are no longer buying oil from Russia.”

“Russian oil goes to Asia in tankers. Russia is giving a hefty discount, but in view of the drastically increased prices, revenue has hardly fallen compared to the previous year.”

In other words, India and China are slurping up Russian crude, and being given deep discounts for it.

Blackout News reported that India is paying Russia about $40 a barrel – or more than 60 percent below the global rate. 

Russia, however, only needs to fetch about $45 a barrel to finance its national budget.

“Despite Western sanctions, Russia is actually selling more oil than before the war,” Blackout News reported.

Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that India has purchased more Russian oil in the last three months than it did in all of 2021. 

Meanwhile, the Blackout News article noted, “The Chinese state-owned companies are obviously reluctant to do business in Russia. China does not want to mess with the US and run the risk of being hit with secondary sanctions.”

“However …private Chinese oil companies are already buying large quantities of Russian oil at high discounts. In the industry, however, it is an open secret that there are an unusually large number of oil deliveries from Russia to the People’s Republic. Tankers are already piling up in front of the Chinese ports.”

The other counterfactual to the claims of Fried and other like-minded Democrats is that, according to an analysis by Biden’s own Energy Department, global oil production is up 4.5 percent over 2021. Overall consumption is up by about half that rate.

Global production for the second quarter of 2022 is back to the level it was in the first quarter of 2020 – just as the pandemic was starting. And for its part, U.S. oil exports hit record high in April.

In short, we have the highest amount of crude oil floating around the globe in two years, and gas prices are $2 more a gallon than they were two years ago.

Putin may have played some part in that, but the pain at the pump is not all his fault, as Fried wants us to believe. Something else is happening in the oil market and much of it may in fact be self-inflicted.

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