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Saudi Arabia is acting to reduce its dependence upon exporting oil through the Gulf and enhance its capacity to confront Iran in the wake of the relaxation of nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic republic in January.
Saudi Aramco, the kingdom’s national oil company, announced today that it plans to increase the capacity of its east-west pipeline by 40 percent to 7m barrels a day (b/d) by the end of 2018.
The 1,200km pipeline which runs from the kingdom’s oil fields in the east to Yanbu on the Red Sea coast has capacity of 5m b/d at present. It was constructed in the 1980s to reduce the kingdom’s dependence upon shipping oil through the Strait of Hormuz.
The line also carried oil from Iraq until it was closed during the war for Kuwait in 1990.
About 17 million b/d of oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz at present.
TAbu Dhabi completed a 360-km oil pipeline from Habshan to Fujairah in 2012. It has capacity to deliver 1.5m b/d.
Iran and Iraq’s dependence on the Gulf route is increasing. Iran has announced it plans to lift oil exports to 2.2m b/d by the end of the summer. Iraq says its production, most of which is shipped through the Gulf, will rise to 5m b/d soon.