Tankers like those apparently attacked Thursday in the Gulf of Oman operate through increasingly treacherous waters, facing mounting dangers from piracy and collision as well as geopolitical hazards. Around 60 million barrels of petroleum product move each day on the seas globally, according to the US Energy Information Administration. And around a third of this volume passes through the Straits of Hormuz, a critical shipping passage. This waterway is a principal route for crude exports from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq. It is also a key route for natural gas exports from Qatar. Other highly strategic waterways include the Strait of Malacca between Singapore and Indonesia, the Suez Canal in Egypt and the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. “Blocking a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs and world energy prices,” said EIA in a 2017 report. “Chokepoints also leave oil tankers vulnerable to theft from pirates, terrorist attacks, political unrest in the form of wars or hostilities and shipping accidents that can lead to disastrous oil spills.” Alexander Booth, head of market analysis at Kpler, said tankers are accustomed to traveling with… Read full this story
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