Strait of Hormuz: The world's most important oil artery

Strait of Hormuz: The world's most important oil artery

FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz
FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

REUTERS: Explosions that damaged two tankers south of the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday (Jun 13) come a month after four vessels were targeted in "sabotage attacks" off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Below are details about the Strait:

WHAT IS THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ?

- The strait lies between Oman and Iran

- It links the Gulf north of it with the Gulf of Oman to the south and the Arabian Sea beyond

- It is 33km wide at its narrowest point, with the shipping lane just three km wide in either direction

- The UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to find other routes to bypass the Strait, including building more oil pipelines

READ: Piracy, collisions, missiles: Tankers in troubled waters

READ: US releases video it says shows Iran's military recovering mine

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

- Almost a fifth of the world's oil passes through the Strait - some 17.2 million barrels per day (bpd) versus consumption of about 100 million bpd in 2017, data from analytics firm Vortexa showed

- OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq export most of their crude via the Strait

- Qatar, the world's biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, sends almost all of its LNG through the Strait

POLITICAL TENSIONS

- The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports

- Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle its economy

- The US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting commercial shipping in the area

READ: Iran 'responsible' for Gulf of Oman attacks: Pompeo

READ: Oil prices ease, but Middle East tanker attacks support

MAJOR PAST INCIDENTS

- During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the two sides sought to disrupt each other's oil exports in what was known as the Tanker War

- In July 1988, the US warship Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 aboard, in what Washington said was an accident and Tehran said was a deliberate attack

- In early 2008, the United States said Iranian vessels threatened three US Navy ships in the Strait

- In July 2010, Japanese oil tanker M Star was attacked in the Strait by a militant group called Abdullah Azzam Brigades linked to al Qaeda claiming responsibility

- In January 2012, Iran threatened to block the Strait in retaliation for US and European sanctions that targeted its oil revenue in an attempt to stop Tehran's nuclear programme

- In May 2015, Iranian ships seized a container ship in the Strait and fired shots at a Singapore-flagged tanker which it said damaged an Iranian oil platform

- In July 2018, President Hassan Rouhani hinted Iran could disrupt oil trade through the Strait in response to US calls to reduce Iran's oil exports to zero

- In May 2019, four vessels - including two Saudi oil tankers - were attacked off the UAE coast near Fujairah, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs, just outside the Strait of Hormuz

Source: Reuters

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