Ninety percent of the Persian Gulf’s oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz, the only waterway connecting the gulf to larger bodies of water. It’s a long trip from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea – through the Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and Suez Canal – but if we’re speaking practically, it’s the only route available. Alternative routes could carry only a small percentage of the amount of oil that passes through the Strait.
Twenty percent of the worldwide demand for oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz every day, mostly through a four-mile-wide channel designated the official shipping channel, according to a report on the waterway from Foreign Policy magazine.
As The Christian Science Monitor notes, oil prices would skyrocket if the waterway was shut down – a problem at any time, but particularly now with the United States’ economic recovery so fragile and many European economies teetering on the brink of collapse.