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The Iranian Navy has intervened to thwart a pirate attack on one of Iran’s oil tankers in the critical Bab el-Mandeb Strait around the Arabian Peninsula, Iranian media reported on Friday, quoting a Navy official.
The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is one of the three crucial chokepoints around the Arabian Peninsula. Located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, Bab el-Mandeb connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
According to Iran’s Mehr news agency, pirates on 11 speedboats attacked on Thursday a tanker carrying 150,000 tons of cargo and Iranian naval forces intervened to repel the pirates.
An Iranian fleet including a destroyer, a logistical warship, and a battleship started its mission in international waters on January 23, the Mehr agency reports, adding that Iran has dispatched in recent years more vessels to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect its ships from Somali pirates.
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Last month, as the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry had already started to mount pressure on Tehran and had halved Iranian oil exports, the Islamic Republic announced that its Navy would hold an annual drill in the Strait of Hormuz—the world’s most important oil chokepoint and one of the three chokepoints around the Arabian Peninsula together with Bab el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal.
Iran has threatened several times to close the Strait of Hormuz for all tanker traffic if the U.S. drives Iranian oil exports to zero.
The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important chokepoint, with an oil flow of 18.5 million bpd in 2016, the EIA estimates. The Strait connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea and is the key route through which Persian Gulf exporters—Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Bahrain—ship their oil. Only Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pipelines that can ship crude oil outside of the Persian Gulf and have additional pipeline capacity to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, which is a route of more than 30 percent of daily global seaborne-traded crude oil and petroleum products and more than 30 percent of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) flows.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.