Strait of Hormuz to close?
The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil route in the world. According
to Russia Today, 17 million barrels, on average, sailed through the
Strait every day in 2011. Depending on whom one asks, that’s anywhere
from 16 to 40 percent of the total oil that comes out of the ground
around the world. Majlis Member Mohammed Hassan Asfari put it at 16 to
20 percent, but the same article (from Fars News Agency) put it at 40 percent. Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson puts it at 33 percent.
The Majlis’ National Security and Foreign Policy Commission already
has a bill to close the strait. At last report, 100 of 290 Members of
Parliament are co-sponsoring this bill.
In response, several Arab countries are looking for ways to bypass the Strait of Hormuz. Abu Dhabi loaded
its first cargo from a new pipeline that can carry 1.5 million barrels a
day. It hopes to handle the heaviest tankers so that they don’t have to
use the Strait.
Saudi Arabia has a 5-million-barrel-a-day pipeline that can carry oil
from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. (They also re-activated an old
pipeline that can carry 1.65 million barrels a day to the Red Sea from
Iraq.) Iraq is building its own pipeline to a Turkish port.
Still, all these pipelines together might carry only half the oil
that passes through the Strait of Hormuz today. Iranian MP Asfari (see
above) bragged yesterday that the Arabs simply don’t have any other way
to get their oil to market. He exaggerates, of course. But cutting the
flow of oil by half would still send oil prices higher. (Watson guesses
that oil could fetch as much as $300 a barrel, or even $500.) Retail
gasoline is already getting more expensive in the USA.
Major General Hassan Firouzabali, Iran’s chief of staff, said yesterday that he already has a plan. He can close the Strait of Hormuz whenever the Supreme Leader of Iran (Ayatollah Ali Khameini) gives the word. (See also here.)
The US Navy has its own plans. It will use robot submarines,
the latest technique in minesweeping, to clear any mines that the
Iranians might lay in the Strait. Still, the Navy admits that the
Iranians can sink a few ships and block the Strait at least temporarily.
UPDATE: A US Navy oiler crew fired on a rubber dinghy that had steered a ramming course toward their ship. And the USS John C. Stennis, a/k/a Johnny Reb, is on her way to the Gulf, with her battle group.
Question: are the Iranians about to close the Strait of Hormuz? And if they do, will it start an even wider war?
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