The 7 Most Important Oil Chokepoints In The World

Oil tanker fireREUTERS/Miguel AdornoPolaris, an Argentine oil tanker, burns after colliding with another ship on the Paraguay River near the port of Villeta August 12, 2011. All 17 crew members from both ships were rescued, according to local media.

Chaos in Egypt has some watchers worried that we could eventually see trouble in the Suez Canal, a vital channel for trade and one of the most important oil chokepoints in the world.

“About half of the world’s total oil production of nearly 90 million barrels per day is transported over water,” write US Funds analysts.

At some point, almost all of this seaborne oil passes through one of seven chokepoints, or a narrow body of water.

At these chokepoints, oil tankers face various risks ranging from heavy traffic to piracy. Any disruption could lead to volatility in oil prices.

US Funds recently took a close look at these seven chokepoints. We highlight some of their findings here.

Danish Straits

The EIA says that as Europe grows more reliant on Russian energy exports, the Danish Straits will gain in importance. Three million barrels per day passed through in 2010.

Source: US Funds

Turkish Straits

One of the busiest chokepoints in the world, the Bosporous and Dardanelles saw a total of 50,000 ships carrying an average of 3 million barrels a day, pass through it in 2011.

Source: US Funds

Suez Canal/SUMED Pipeline

Though just 1,000-feet-wide at its maximum point, 18,000 ships passed through the Suez in 2011. Combined with the SUMED oil pipeline, the Suez area transports 2.4 million barrels per day.

Source: US Funds

Strait of Hormuz

The most vital checkpoint in the world: 17 million barrels per day passed through in 2011.

Source: US Funds

Bab el-Mandeb

The origin for tankers' hazardous journey around the horn of Africa, the strait saw 3.4 million barrels per day in 2011.

Source: US Funds

Strait of Malacca

Asia's key checkpoint: 15 million barrels per day passed through in 2011.

Source: US Funds

Panama Canal

Though only 755,000 barrels per day passed through in 2011, the Panama Canal Authority is in the midst of a massive overhaul that, by 2014, will triple the strait's capacity.

Source: US Funds

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