Explained: Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil arteryhttps://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery-5780260/

Explained: Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil artery

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

Explained: Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil artery
An Iranian navy boat sprays water to extinguish a fire on an oil tanker in the sea of Oman, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo: Tasnim News Agency)

Explosions that damaged two tankers south of the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday 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 21 miles (33 km) wide at its narrowest point, with the shipping lane just two miles (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

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 

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* 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 U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, is tasked with protecting commercial shipping in the area 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 Sources: Reuters/Refinitiv/Energy Information Administration (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by Jason Neely)