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Britain Steps Up To Protect Oil Tankers In The Gulf

The United Kingdom will join the United States in protecting oil tankers in the Persian Gulf after a series of recent incidents disrupted oil flows through the Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz, Boris Johnson announced today as reported by The Guardian.

The UK already has two Royal Navy ships in the Gulf, which have shadowed UK tankers to ensure their safety. But now the UK will work with other foreign governments to increase the security of the Gulf to encourage the smooth flow of tanker traffic in the area.

The two UK ships will join two US warships in the efforts to calm oil shippers who have looked to avoid the treacherous area after the Iranian National Guard Corp seized the British tanker Stena Impero last month while traveling through the Strait.

And now the UK is calling on the rest of the international community to join forces.

“Our aim is to build the broadest international support to uphold freedom of navigation in the region, as protected under international law,” Dominic Raab, UK’s new foreign secretary said on Monday.

It is unclear what countries would be interested in joining the efforts, but Germany has already said it definitively will not participate in any efforts—led by the United States at least—to secure the Gulf. South Korea, on the other hand, has agreed to send anti-piracy units to the Gulf to aid the US in keeping the Gulf safe, after South Korea met with US staff to discuss how to aid tanker traffic through the most critical oil chokepoint in the world.

Tensions in the Gulf increased again today as reports surfaced that the Iranian National Guard had seized another vessel over the weekend—a fuel tanker--in the Gulf. Iran claimed the vessel was Iraq-owned, but Iraq denied ownership.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on August 06 2019 said:
    With the country facing its biggest crisis since the 1956 Suez crisis and with a fast-declining pound, Britain should not get entangled in US escalating tension with Iran and concentrate instead on dealing with Brexit and its own problems.

    Actually, Britain’s interests and shipping in the Gulf would be better protected if it could reach an agreement with Iran for the mutual release of the seized tankers rather than doing US bidding.

    Britain should learn some lessons from Germany’s iron lady, Angela Merkel. With a very healthy economy and with a GDP exceeding $4.2 trillion, almost one and half times that of Britain, Germany under the leadership of Angela Merkel said it definitively will not join a US-led maritime naval force to protect shipping in the Gulf. Mrs Merkel showed her mettle when she ignored President Trump’s threat to impose sanctions on Germany if it doesn’t stop supporting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and went ahead with building its part on German territory.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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