• 25 mins Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 2 hours Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 4 hours Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 10 hours Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 15 hours Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 19 hours Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 22 hours Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 1 day Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 1 day Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 1 day Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 1 day U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 2 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 2 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 2 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 2 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 2 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 2 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
  • 2 days World’s Biggest Private Equity Firm Raises $1 Billion To Invest In Oil
  • 3 days Oil Prices Tank After API Reports Strong Build In Crude Inventories
  • 3 days Iraq Oil Revenue Not Enough For Sustainable Development
  • 3 days Sudan In Talks With Foreign Oil Firms To Boost Crude Production
  • 3 days Shell: Four Oil Platforms Shut In Gulf Of Mexico After Fire
  • 3 days OPEC To Recruit New Members To Fight Market Imbalance
  • 3 days Green Groups Want Norway’s Arctic Oil Drilling Licenses Canceled
  • 3 days Venezuelan Oil Output Drops To Lowest In 28 Years
  • 4 days Shale Production Rises By 80,000 BPD In Latest EIA Forecasts
  • 4 days GE Considers Selling Baker Hughes Assets
  • 4 days Eni To Address Barents Sea Regulatory Breaches By Dec 11
  • 4 days Saudi Aramco To Invest $300 Billion In Upstream Projects
  • 4 days Aramco To List Shares In Hong Kong ‘For Sure’
  • 4 days BP CEO Sees Venezuela As Oil’s Wildcard
  • 4 days Iran Denies Involvement In Bahrain Oil Pipeline Blast
  • 7 days The Oil Rig Drilling 10 Miles Under The Sea
  • 7 days Baghdad Agrees To Ship Kirkuk Oil To Iran
  • 7 days Another Group Joins Niger Delta Avengers’ Ceasefire Boycott
  • 7 days Italy Looks To Phase Out Coal-Fired Electricity By 2025
  • 7 days Kenya Set To Give Local Communities Greater Share Of Oil Revenues
  • 7 days Rosneft, China To Deepen Strategic Cooperation
  • 7 days New York Listing Unlikely For Aramco IPO
  • 7 days China To Invest $83B In U.S. Shale

Breaking News:

Venezuela Officially In Default

Alt Text

Kurdistan Ready To Hand Over Oil For 17% Of Iraqi Budget

The Kurdistan Regional Government has…

Alt Text

Kurdistan Proposes Immediate Ceasefire With Iraq

The Kurdistan Regional Government has…

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel J. Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer and political analyst based in Michigan. His work on matters related to the geopolitical aspects of the global energy sector,…

More Info

Iran Threatens Oil Spill in Persian Gulf

Iran Threatens Oil Spill in Persian Gulf

A report from German news magazine Der Spiegel states that Iran's latest effort to disrupt key shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz may be to cause a massive oil spill. Code-named Murky Water, the operation may serve to force a temporary respite from sanctions targeting the country's energy sector. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein tried a similar tactic during the first Gulf War to deter invading U.S. forces. If the German report is true, the Iranian operation could be a sign of Tehran's dwindling options.

Der Spiegel, citing unnamed "Western intelligence officials" privy to "top secret" information, reports that Iranian Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari could order an oil spill by possibly wrecking an oil tanker in the key strait. Such an act would force the temporary closure of the conduit for much of the world's maritime oil shipments. When Iran threatened to choke off the strait early this year, oil markets went into overdrive despite a lack of physical disruptions. But apart from closing the strait, the German report notes, any international response to the spill would require lifting the embargo on Iranian oil shipments and potentially result in kickbacks for Iranian companies responding to the disaster.

Iraqi forces in 1991 tried to avert an amphibious assault by the U.S. Marines by dumping an estimated 5.7 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf, making it the worst oil spill of its kind in world history. While roughly half that spill evaporated, much of the residual oil seeped into sensitive marshlands in the region. In the sixth-worst spill in history, eleven people died in 1983 when, during the Iran-Iraq War, a 1.9-million-barrel slick from an oil tanker collision caught fire in the Persian Gulf.

Related Article: Is a Larger Middle East War Inevitable?

Der Spiegel reports the plans for Murky Water may now be in the hands of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who makes all final decisions in Iran. The ruling cleric said Monday that economic pressure on his country wasn't a destabilizing factor when considering the resolve of the Iranian people.

"Dear Iran enjoys an exemplary political stability and tranquility due to the nation's really admirable vigilance, awareness and insight backed up by people's presence on the scene," he said. "The Iranian nation has managed to show its capabilities to the world despite threats, sanctions and the enemies' hostilities relying on this stability and tranquility."

His resolve, however, ignores recent political trends. A top adviser to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was taken into custody in late September for publishing material deemed offensive to Khamenei. Weeks later, lawmakers passed a measure calling on the president to answer questions about his economic policies after the Iranian currency collapsed. Ahmadinejad, blamed currency speculators for causing the devaluation, saying any criticism against his domestic policies was part of a "psychological war." The historic Grand Bazaar, meanwhile, was closed in response to economic protests.

The European Union announced Monday it was taking further action against the Central Bank of Iran because of Tehran's "flagrant violation" of its international nuclear obligations. Sanctions imposed on Iran are meant to starve the country of revenue needed to fund its controversial nuclear program. The U.S. government has offered waivers for some sanctions on Iran, meaning crude oil continues to flow from the Islamic republic. If the Der Spiegel report is true, however, economic pressure is finally forcing the country into a corner.

Der Spiegel's story, widely circulated by the Israeli media during the weekend, wasn't verified by outside reports.

By. Daniel J. Graeber of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News