Persian Gulf Conflict Could Send Oil Beyond $325

Monday, July 8, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Vincent Lauerman via OilPrice.com,
ZeroHedge.com
Mon, 07/08/2019

The possibility of Iran attempting to close the Strait of Hormuz to tanker traffic has increased significantly in recent weeks, as has the possibility of a Persian Gulf War, especially with the Islamic Republics’ intentional destruction of a U.S. surveillance drone on June 20.

This act provides weight to Tehran’s threat that it will inflict a heavy toll on U.S. allies in the region if attacked by American forces and will not allow these same countries to export their oil if it can’t export its own.

The memory remains remarkably fresh in Iran of the 1951-53 oil embargo that toppled the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh – and the CIA installing the despot Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the so-called Shah of Iran, in his place.

The impact on oil markets of an Iranian closure of the Strait of Hormuz would be enormous.

Strait of Hormuz Closure

The leadership of the Iranian Navy and the Revolutionary Guard Navy, knowing they could never challenge the U.S. in a conventional naval contest, have been accumulating considerable asymmetric and other capabilities to enable the Islamic Republic to close the Strait of Hormuz since the “tanker war” in the Persian Gulf during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

These capabilities include thousands of sea mines, torpedoes, advanced cruise missiles, regular-sized and mini-submarines, and a flotilla of small fast-attack boats, most of which are concentrated in the strait region.

Pentagon planners believe Iran would use all of these capabilities in an integrated fashion to both disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz and attempt to deny American and allied forces access to the region. Iranian naval forces are viewed as a “credible threat” to international shipping in the strait.

When commanding CENTCOM between 2010 and 2013, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis developed a multinational plan to minimize disruptions to maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz by preventing Iranian efforts to lay mines and systematically clear mines that have been deployed. The focus on mines was due to the assumption that they were the major means to hinder traffic as it is difficult to sink a modern double-hull oil tanker by torpedo or missile attack. A primary goal of the plan is to create ever-larger safe passages through minefields to allow movement of oil tankers to return to pre-crisis levels as quickly as possible.

There is a consensus among U.S. military planners that American and allied forces would ultimately prevail over Iran if it attempted to close the Strait of Hormuz. The most optimistic planners believe U.S.-led forces could reopen the straight within a few days, whereas the least optimistic ones believe it could take up to three months to restore maritime traffic to normal levels.

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