Abu Dhabi is building a pipeline to Fujairah so the flow of oil can avoid the troubled Straits of Hormuz.
Now Dubai authorities are considering the construction of a by-pass shipping canal to avoid future strangulations of the Straits of Hormuz.
Iran repeatedly says it will block traffic through the Straits if its nuclear plants are attacked by Israel or the United States. These are no idle threats for Iran has targeted tankers in its recent history.
Whenever Iran makes these statements the price of oil rises so this is an international problem not just a challenge for the Gulf States to avoid the Hormuz choke point.
This traffic is significant as 17 million barrels of oil a day (or 40% of the world’s traded oil) pass through the Straits. This represents 90% of the Gulf’s oil flow.
There appear to be several plans but the 112-mile canal would link the Gulf coast with the port of Fujairah on the Indian Ocean coast.
This would pose an enormous engineering feat as the canal would cross the Hajar Mountains using a network of locks. But with Dubai’s ‘can do’ attitude, this would be further testimony to Dubai’s remarkable achievements.
Cost is a consideration with the projected price tag of the canal around US$200 billion. However, with Abu Dhabi splashing its millions on football clubs and footballers this canal construction cost is put into perspective and it would provide a telling contrast in investment.
Furthermore Dubai is getting experienced at creating canals and it is already looking to earn the reputation as the Venice of the Middle East. A canal through the mighty Hajars and wide enough to move oil tankers would be taking canal building to a new level.
No details have surfaced on the environmental impact of building a canal through the Hajars but as these mountains are quarried to provide the foundation for Dubai’s big building projects this would not seem be of great concern to the decision makers.
The leaking of these plans to construct a Dubai to Fujairah Canal has come in the same week as Fujairah authorities have announced major alterations and extensions to its port, which is the second largest oil bunkering port in the world and still growing.
One wonders what connections there are between the plans for a new inter-emirate canal and an enlarged Fujairah port.
David Robertson, Dubai plans $200bn canal to bypass Strait of Hormuz, Times, 9 September 2008.
Fujairah Port Announces Expansion but no Word on Oil pollution Control, Fujairah in Focus, 8 September 2008.
Read more on The Geopolitics of Excess with a wonderful drawing of military action near the Gulf of Hormuz and where the Dubai-Fujairah canal might be built.
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: “Building a canal through the Hajars.”
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