A pipeline being built by the United Arab Emirates to export oil from east coast terminals, avoiding the Iran-threatened Strait of Hormuz, will be operational by June, its energy minister said Monday.
“The pipeline is almost complete. It will be operational within six months ... by May or June,” Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hameli told reporters.
Iran has threatened to close the strategic waterway at the entrance to the Gulf if the West presses ahead with a threatened embargo on its oil exports.
The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will have the capacity to pump 1.5 million barrels per day of oil from fields in Abu Dhabi on the Gulf to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman, Hameli said.
The UAE currently produces around 2.5 million bpd. Construction of the 360 kilometer (225 mile) pipeline began in 2008.
Hameli brushed aside questions about other measures the UAE might take to secure oil supplies in the event that Iran carries out its threat to close of the Strait of Hormuz, saying: “Who says Hormuz is going to close?”
Tension has escalated as the West continues to squeeze Tehran over its controversial nuclear program, with the EU threatening a total ban on oil purchases from Iran.
Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz -- through which 20 percent of the world's tanker-carried oil flows -- if its crude exports are blocked.