Showdown in the Strait of Hormuz

...The importance of Hormuz to global stability is paramount. According to a report from GlobalSecurity.org, almost 25 percent of the world’s oil supply transits the Strait daily–some 16.5-17 million barrels according to 2006 estimates–approximately 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil. Over 75 percent of Japan’s oil is carried through this waterway. By 2020, it is estimated that daily traffic will increase to some 30-34 million barrels.

Another thing about the Strait: it’s narrow, between 34-40 miles wide. Furthermore, there are just two 2-mile wide channels, one each for inbound and outbound traffic. Also, this traffic consists mostly of supertankers carrying over two million barrels each, meaning that fewer ships with more oil are carrying this supply.

If Hormuz were closed, as much as one-fifth of the world’s oil supply would be lost (assuming maximum output through pipelines from Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea, Turkey (through Iraq). and, possibly, Lebanon.) For the United States alone, this would have severe effects. According to a GAO report of October 5, 2006, such an occurrence could cause oil prices to increase $175 per barrel. Globally, the effects in such regions as Western Europe and East Asia would be even worse....

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