Gulf Tensions Soar Amid Attacks On Key Saudi, UAE Export Routes

This week’s attacks on vessels at the UAE’s Fujairah port and on a critical Saudi crude oil pipeline bring questions about the key Hormuz-bypass options of two of the world’s largest oil producers.

With tensions simmering in the Gulf amid increasingly heated rhetoric from officials in the US and Iran, risks that a miscalculation could spark an escalation are heightening ( MEES, 17 May ). Attacks this week on Saudi crude export infrastructure and tankers moored off the UAE’s key Fujairah export terminal therefore came at a fraught moment.

In Saudi Arabia, two pumping stations on the 5mn b/d East-West crude oil pipeline were attacked by drones on 14 May. Although the damage was minor, Saudi Aramco was forced to temporarily close the strategically important pipeline which enables the kingdom to export crude oil without transiting the Strait of Hormuz (see map). (CONTINUED - 1413 WORDS)