U.S. Energy Information Administration Details World Oil Transit Chokepoints

Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes. They are a critical part of global energy security due to the high volume of oil traded through their narrow straights. The Strait of Hormuz leading out of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans are two of the world’s most strategic chokepoints. Other important passages include: Bab el-Mandab which connects the Arabian Sea with the Red Sea; the Panama Canal and the Panama Pipeline connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; the Suez Canal and the Sumed Pipeline linking the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea; and the Turkish/Bosporus Straights joining the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea region to the Mediterranean Sea.

Chokepoint Information Table

In 2007, total world oil production amounted to approximately 85 million barrels per day (bbl/d), and around one-half, or over 43 million bbl/d of oil was moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes. The international energy market is dependent upon reliable transport. The blockage of a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs. In addition, chokepoints leave oil tankers vulnerable to theft from pirates, terrorist attacks, and political unrest in the form of wars or hostilities and shipping accidents which can lead to disastrous oil spills.