Gulf countries mulling alternative oil routes

Iran has threatened that any foreign attack on its nuclear installations will be met with obstruction of strategic waterways in the Gulf.

By THE MEDIA LINE STAFF
June 30, 2008 15:01
1 minute read.
Gulf countries mulling alternative oil routes

Iranian Oil 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are reportedly mapping out alternative oil export routes, in the event that Iran would cut off major oil shipping lines if its nuclear facilities were attacked. Iran has threatened that any foreign attack on its nuclear installations will be met with obstruction of strategic waterways in the Gulf. Countries in the Gulf collectively have about 62 percent of the world's oil reserves. The Gulf's Strait of Hurmuz is the most important and strategic waterway for oil exports in the region and any obstruction there could cause a crisis in the global oil industry. Tension between Iran and the West, especially the United States and Israel, is on the rise as both sides exchange verbal threats and are ostensibly planning a military showdown. If Iran is attacked by foreign troops, Tehran will do all it can to defend itself, including impeding navigation in the Strait of Hurmuz, commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Muhammad 'Ali Al-Ja'fari, told the government newspaper Jam e-Jam on Saturday. He said this would likely push up oil prices even higher than they are. Alternative routes could be the use of pipelines that run across through Saudi Arabia all the way to the Red Sea, Paul Rogers, a professor of peace studies at Bradford University, told The Media Line. Such pipelines do exist, but Rogers said he doubted whether they had the capacity to make up for any major shortfalls caused by interruptions at the Strait of Hurmuz. New pipelines would take at least two years to build, he predicted. "I assume they'd run the existing pipelines to the absolute maximum, but I doubt that would have a great impact," Rogers said. He estimated that any interruption in the near future in the Gulf waterways would cause oil prices to soar, regardless of whether alternatives were in place. "If there were any kind of disruption you'd get an immediate increase in oil prices just as a result of the expectation of shortages and the result of speculation. I think it would hurt the global industry massively, given the shortages we have at the moment and the nature of the speculation market."


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