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U.S. Thirst for Russian Oil Hits Record High Despite Tough Talk

Even as Washington champions energy independence and warns European allies against becoming too dependent on Moscow, American refineries are buying more of the country’s oil than ever before.

Exxon’s refinery in Baytown, Texas.

Exxon’s refinery in Baytown, Texas.

Photographer: Julie Dermansky

The oil tankers docking at the refinery in Baytown, Texas, look exactly like many others plying the waters of the Houston Ship Channel. But stashed inside their capacious holds is an unusual cargo: Russian petroleum.

The sprawling complex, which belongs to Exxon Mobil Corp., isn’t the only U.S. refinery that’s been receiving shipments of Russian oil. Chevron Corp.’s plant in Mobile, Ala., and Valero Energy Corp.’s facility in St. Charles, La., are also customers.