Iran weighing pipeline to bypass Hormuz

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Iran is seriously considering building an oil export pipeline that would bypass the narrow Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, the authoritative Middle East Economic Survey reported Monday.

Tehran sources told the weekly oil journal that Iranian authorities are giving 'serious' thought to the pipeline project even though planning still is 'at a very early stage.'


The Iranian parliament has granted tentative approval to the project, Mees said.

The National Iranian Oil Co. has been holding discussions with various contracting firms interested in undertaking design engineering and construction supervision services for the pipeline, it said.

The proposed pipeline would would run some 750 miles from the Gach Saran oil field via the Gurreh pump station opposite the Kharg Island terminal to the port of Jask on the Indian Ocean outside the Strait of Hormuz, Mees said.

Iran plans to construct a 2 million barrel-a-day export terminal at Jask, the survey said.

Iraq, which has been at war with Iran since September 1980, has no plans to resume oil exports through the Gulf until the conflict ends, Mees said.

Quoting well-informed Iraqi sources, the journal said Iraq 'has no intention whatsoever to rebuild the Fao oil export terminal or install single buoy moorings in Iraq's southern waters as long as the hostilities with Iran continue.'


Saudi Arabian sources told Mees that the kingdom has been stockpiling crude oil outside the Persian Gulf -- either in floating storage or onshore tanks -- for 'purely commercial' reasons.

The Saudi sources dismissed as 'ridiculous' speculation that the kingdom's basic motive for storing crude outside the Gulf was to provide insurance against an escalation of the Iraq-Iran war that could halt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, the journal said.

'It would not be responsible for a government to do something like that just on the chance that something will blow up in the Gulf,' a Saudi source said. 'Supposing nothing happens. We would just get stuck with the oil.'

The sources said Saudi Arabia has built up stocks outside the Gulf because regular production from some of its offshore fields has been disrupted by period shutdowns as associated gas output is tied into the kingdom's master gas system.

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