Has the ‘Go-Ahead’ been given and is the Countdown running for the Attack on Iran?(JPost).DUBAI – Saudi Arabia has reopened an old oil pipeline built by Iraq to bypass Gulf shipping lanes, giving Riyadh scope to export more of its crude from Red Sea terminals should Iran try to block the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources say. The Iraqi Pipeline in Saudi Arabia (IPSA), laid across the kingdom in the 1980s after oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf by both sides during the Iran-Iraq war, has not carried Iraqi crude since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Saudi Arabia confiscated the pipeline in 2001 to compensate for debts owed by Baghdad and has used it to transport gas to power plants in the west of the country in the last few years. Iran in January threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for US and European sanctions that target its oil revenues in a bid to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Alarmed, Saudi Arabia has now quietly reconditioned IPSA to carry crude, test pumping along the line over the last four to five months, several sources with knowledge of the project say. “The testing started because Saudi Arabia wanted to secure alternative routes to export oil,” an industry source in Saudi Arabia said. Western industry sources said the tests through the 1.65-million barrel-a-day line had delivered into storage facilities at Mu’ajjiz near Yanbu on the Red Sea for at least four months. More than a third of the world’s seaborne oil exports pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz from the oilfields of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Qatar’s liquefied natural gas exports are all shipped through Hormuz. As tensions over Iran’s nuclear program ratcheted up, Riyadh decided to put IPSA on standby to transport more crude west in an emergency. The United Arab Emirates has built its own Hormuz bypass pipeline, which is due to start exporting from the Gulf of Oman next month.MFS – The Other News -22 June: United Arab Emirates – First oil flows through UAE’s Hormuz bypass.
“This is a great solution for the UAE but it’s not a 100 percent solution for the whole problem,” said Theodore Karasik, research director at Dubai-based security consultancy INEGMA Group. The new pipeline has a stated capacity of around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) while UAE exports total around 2.4 million bpd. Some sources say the pipeline could carry around 2 million bpd of the UAE’s biggest export at a push. The 370-km (231-mile) Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline carries oil from fields in the UAE’s western desert to the east coast port of Fujairah, a major oil storage and fuel bunkering hub. “Today oil has been received at the main oil terminal in Fujairah and 1 million barrels is coming in,” a source directly involved in the project said. “The plan is to load the first oil tanker around July 1… We will slowly increase it to 1.5 million bpd.”