This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi says any disruption to oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz will be a “major obstacle” for his country and that Baghdad is looking for potential alternative routes for crude shipments.
“Iraq has too few export outlets,” Abdul Mahdi told reporters on July 9 in response to questions about the raised tensions between the United States and Iran.
“Right now, most of the Iraqi oil exports are being done through southern terminals.”
“We need to diversify our export outlets,” he added.
Abdul Mahdi said the country’s Oil Ministry is moving forward on two projects to increase exports in the future, including studying the possibility of building a major pipeline to export oil from southern Iraq to Jordan’s Aqaba port.
He said the ministry will also look at constructing an offshore oil installation in the south.
Relations between Washington and Tehran have plummeted since the U.S. pullout last year from the 2015 nuclear deal, with recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and near the Strait of Hormuz exacerbating the situation.
Washington blamed Iran for the incidents, while Tehran denied any involvement.
Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if it is unable to export its oil products.
U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero as part of efforts pressure the government to negotiate on its nuclear program.