AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Joe Biden’s decision to ban the import of Russian oil Tuesday morning is expected to raise gas prices even more.

“The decision today is not without cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military buildup in Ukrainian borders, just since then, the price of the gas at the pump in America went up 75 cents. And with this action is going to go up further,” Biden said Tuesday.

Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have suggested an increase in oil production in Texas could help bring those gas prices down and help the U.S. become energy independent.

Abbott tweeted this week, “Instead of begging other countries for oil, Biden can stop hindering the U.S. energy sector. Texas can easily produce enough oil to reduce gas prices if his Administration would get out of the way.”

But simply ramping up domestic production would not immediately help.

“We do produce a lot of oil domestically. Just because we get it out of the ground doesn’t mean we can actually refine it,” energy analyst Josh Rhodes said Tuesday.

A lot of our refiners, particularly in the gulf coast of Texas are built for this lower quality crude that comes from the Middle East and Russia and Canada. And the crude that we produce is typically higher quality. Counterintuitively, it’s harder for us to actually turn that better crude into gasoline and diesel than it is for the lower quality crude.

energy analyst Josh Rhodes

That means in addition to ramping up domestic production, we would also have to change how refineries operate, which can’t happen overnight.

Ramping up production can help keep gas prices down, however, if we ship it overseas for processing.

“We can produce more and potentially send more to Europe where they actually are more tooled to process that sweet crude. And so that might be helpful in the short term,” Rhodes said.

The oil produced in the Permian Basin in West Texas is sweet crude, while much of the oil we import is sour.

“The difference between sweet and sour crude is basically the sulfur content. Lower quality crude just has higher levels of impurities that have to be removed. And sweeter crude has lower levels of impurities. And so it’s just a difference in the way that it has to be processed. And right now, we’re just set up to process the lower quality stuff, and not as much of the sweet stuff that we have here,” Rhodes explained.

Since Russian oil only accounts for about 4% of the U.S.’ oil supply, Rhodes said Biden’s decision Tuesday is largely symbolic. If the rest of Europe follows suit, we could see prices rise even more.

“If the rest of the world, which consumes the rest of Russian oil, also does the same thing, then because we are in a global market for oil, then that will push the price even higher than it is now.”

Biden said Tuesday the current crisis is a reminder the U.S. needs to move toward energy independence, although he does not point to increased oil production as the answer.

“Transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles powered by clean energy, with tax credits to help American families winterize their homes and use less energy that will help. And if we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about price of gas pump in the future,” Biden said Tuesday.

More than just war

The rise in gas prices has also been building over time; it’s not solely attributable to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“In 2020, oil prices briefly went negative, indicating that there was not near as much demand as there was supply on the market. Now prices are well over $100. Rebound from COVID restrictions has been happening faster, prices have been low for so long that there hasn’t been as much investment in the sector,” Rhodes said.

Inflation has also played a role.

“Just general inflation across the board. Workforce issues, all kinds of things are leading to oil prices that were already increasing. And this is just the proverbial match that lit fire,” Rhodes explained.

Infrastructure issues

Another problem with our energy infrastructure is how we’re transporting these products.

“We are limited somewhat in our pipeline capacity to move our products, either crude oil or refined products, from one part of the country to the other,” Rhodes explained.

A law passed in 1918, the Jones Act, also gets in the way of efficiently transporting the products.

“We’re limited in the amount that we can actually move it by one of the most basic methods, besides a pipeline, which is by marine because of the Jones Act, which does not allow a ship to go from a U.S. port to another U.S. port unless that ship is made, or was made, in the U.S. There’s just not that many ships that are made in the U.S. anymore,” Rhodes explained.