The US said it is closely monitoring increased activity on the part of Iran’s navy near key oil shipping chokepoints in the Middle East.
“We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman. We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways,” said Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman in a statement.
“We also continue to advocate for all maritime forces to conform to international maritime customs, standards and laws,” Urban said.
Sputnik news reports that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) appears to be preparing for a major display of force in the Strait of Hormuz, the only outlet from the Persian Gulf to the open sea.
Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes. The inability of oil to transit a major chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial supply delays and higher shipping costs, resulting in higher world energy prices, according to the EIA.
“The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important chokepoint, with an oil flow of 18.5 million b/d in 2016. The Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, and in 2015 its daily flow of oil accounted for 30% of all seaborne-traded crude oil and other liquids. More than 30% of global liquefied natural gas trade also transited the Strait of Hormuz in 2016. At its narrowest point, the Strait of Hormuz is 21 miles wide, but the width of the shipping lane in either direction is only two miles wide, separated by a two-mile buffer zone,” according to the EIA.
For its part, the Arab coalition said it has taken all necessary measures to ensure the freedom of navigation and international trade through the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait.