The Wall Street Journal

Posted: 3 January 2020

Soleimani Killing Raises Fears of Reprisals on Oil Infrastructure

Crude prices rose Friday after a U.S. airstrike killed a high-ranking Iranian military leader, stoking traders’ fears of retaliatory attacks on Middle Eastern energy infrastructure.

While U.S. sanctions against the country have diminished Iran’s oil exports, Tehran’s promised reprisal has the potential to snarl waterborne shipments from the Persian Gulf, including from Saudi Arabia. Roughly a third of the world’s shipped oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz, where tankers have been attacked and seized over the past year…

In terms of what this means for Saudi Arabia, they’ll be extremely nervous today. They’d love to have Iran confronted but they won’t want to be on the front line,” said Charles Hollis, a former U.K. diplomat to Saudi Arabia and Iran, and managing director of geopolitical risk consulting firm Falanx Assynt.

[For Iran], to attack a proxy nation after a direct attack from the U.S. is an easy option, but I’m almost certain the U.S. will have reinforced defences there,” Mr. Hollis added.

Washing and Riyadh have both accused Iran of being behind September’s attack on Saudi oil-processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais, as well as attacks on other Saudi energy infrastructure and oil tankers in and around the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has denied many those accusations…

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