Important Global Chokepoints

The following article is focuseto promoting awareness of various “choking points” around the
world. Choking points are straits -narrow corridors of water connecting two large bodies of
water. They are, however, different in terms of their intrinsic value to global trade. Much of the
world’s trading goods, and in particular oil, is transported along these straits and if they were
to shut down for any reason, this would lead to a major disruption of trade of goods.
There is a total of seven choking points in the world. The following is a description of each of
them:

Strait of Hormuz - 17 million barrels of oil per day
The Strait of Hormuz is the world's primary
oil chokepoint.
According to the EIA, 17 million barrels of oil,
representing 30% of all maritime-traded
petroleum, passed through the strait each
day in 2013. Oil from Saudi Arabia, the UAE,
Qatar, Iran, and Iraq all pass through the
strait and head mostly towards Asia,
although tankers can also head west
towards the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
Situated between Iran and Oman, the Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf with the
Arabian Sea. It is perhaps the most vital choking point because some of the world’s major oil
producing nations (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) rely on it to transport
oil.

Bosporus and Dardanelles (Turkish Straits) .In 2011. the Strait of Hormuz was a popular topic in the news. and Kazakhstan. The chokepoint connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. If the strait were closed down. The Bosporus is situated between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara whereas the Dardanelles is situated between the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. China. Malaysia. with the fuel from the Middle East primarily heading towards Indonesia. Nearly all the shipments navigated through the Turkish Straits contain oil from the Caspian Sea region.2 million barrels of oil a day passed through the strait. with the petroleum coming from Russia. It is also Russia’s primary route to access European markets. Azerbaijan. and Japan. The Strait of Malacca is situated between Singapore. In 2013. It is interesting to note that Turkey must allow free passage to non-military vessels of countries with which it is not at war. and Indonesia. All of the oil transported from the Persian Gulf to the Asian markets (particularly.9 million barrels of oil per day The Bosporus is a narrow stretch of water that divides both Asia from Europe and splits Istanbul's European and Asian halves. Malacca Close .2.2 million barrels of oil per day Strait of Malacca: The Strait of Malacca is the shortest waterway which connects the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is considered to be the most dangerous chokepoint in the world because it is a mere 800m wide at its narrowest point with many sharp bends. the EIA estimated that 15. US presence along the strait was established in 1991 during the first Gulf War and it continues to maintain a naval presence in order to ensure the free flow of oil from the region. The strait has also become one of the newest piracy hotspots in the world. thus making navigation extremely difficult. In 2013. . In accordance to an agreement signed in 1936 called the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.15. half of the world’s trading vessels would be forced to use an alternative (and a longer) route. It connects the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. China and Japan) goes through the Strait of Malacca.9 million barrels of oil a day flowed through the Bosporus. Bosporus Close:The Bosporus and Dardanelles also known as the Turkish Straits is in Turkey. approximately 2. Iran threatened to close the strait in response to the crippling sanctions being imposed on the country with regards to its nuclear program.

the Suez Canal was expanded in 2010 to allow 60% of all tankers in the world to effectively pass through. separating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (between Djibouti. In 1956. allowing vessels to travel through Egypt rather than around Africa. Arguably. the EIA notes. But security remains a primary concern and in September 2013 terrorists planned a failed rocket attack on cargo ships passing through the region. the Bab el-Mandab connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and ultimately to the Indian Ocean. particularly in the 60s and 70s when tensions between Egypt and Israel were high. Only 18 miles wide at its narrowest point. oil tankers would be forced to travel around Africa. The canal is a vital route for oil tankers from the Persian Gulf going to Europe and North America. so the closure of the waterway could have a cascade effect. but eventually Egypt was given control over the Canal. and Yemen). Instability or closure of the waterway could force tankers to have to travel around the southern tip of Africa.Suez Canal . mostly to markets in Europe and North America. Crucially.2 million barrels of oil per day The Suez Canal passes through Egypt and connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.2 million barrels of oil a day passed through the canal. If it were to close down. Eritrea. the Suez Canal was shut down due to Israeli forces invading the Sinai Peninsula (which was a response to Egypt’s nationalization of the canal).3. . the Suez Canal is located in Egypt and was built in 1869 in order to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Since then. thus the two are interdependent. Egypt has used the Suez Canal as a counterweight against threats to its sovereignty on a handful of occasions.8 million barrels of oil per day Bab el-Mandeb is to the south of the Suez Canal. The fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2011 and the resulting unrest did little to deter shipping through the canal. Bab el-Mandeb . a record 3. Any vessel that goes through the Suez Canal must also go through Bab el-Mandeb. one of the busiest straits. thus reducing the distance travelled between Europe and Asia. According to the EIA. there has been much concern about security in the area. The Bab el-Mandab is one of the most precarious oil chokepoints in the world right now. In 2013. the vast majority of southbound traffic through the Suez Canal must also pass through the Bab el-Mandab.3. Due to rising issue of piracy.

forcing larger super-tankers to avoid the canal entirely. The utility of the canal has waned in the years since it was built. If the Canal were to be closed. and are not to be confused with the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland. the Panama Canal transported 1. According to the EIA. is among the most secure oil chokepoints in the world. thus adding 13000 kilometres to their journey. This amounted to approximately 0. formed out of a series of channels passing around Danish Islands.0.85 million barrels of oil per day The Panama Canal connects the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean and ultimately to the Atlantic. vessels would have to be rerouted around South America. Today. the country’s global trade also depends on the canal.85 million barrels of oil a day in 2013. The Danish straits are the three channels connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. Danish: Lillebælt Øresund. Approximately 3.Panama Canal Close.3 million barrels of oil a day flowed through the region in 2013. Danish Strait . The three main passages are: Great Belt.3 million barrels of oil per day The Danish Straits. 60% of American trade coastto-coast trade relies on the canal.3. the narrowest point of the Panama Canal is only 110 feet wide at its narrowest point. The Panama Canal connects the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. Furthermore.4% of all oil and petroleum products globally in 2013. (Danish) / Öresund (Swedish) . They transect Denmark. The chokepoint connects the Baltic Sea in the east to the North Sea in the west. Danish: Storebælt Little Belt.