Is it possible to reroute the Strait of Hormuz

Since the Islamic revolution in 1979 Iran’s relations with the West have been rocky. Recently, after years of U.S. threats, Iran is taking steps which suggest that is both willing and capable of closing the Strait of Hormuz. On December 24, 2011 Iran started its Velayat-90 naval drills in and around the Strait of Hormuz and extending from the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman (Oman Sea) to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
Since the conduct of these drills, there has been a growing war of words between US and Iran. Following this, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if necessary. Gulf oil ministers reported discuss options to reroute oil as a precautionary measure to mitigate the impact of any blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.
The entire world knows the importance of the Strait of Hormuz and US and its allies are very well aware that the Iranians can militarily close it for a significant period of time. This is why the U.S. has been working with the GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the U.A.E. – to re-route their oil through pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz and channeling GCC oil directly to the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, or Mediterranean Sea. Washington has also been pushing Iraq to seek alternative routes in talks with Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
Both Israel and Turkey have also been very interested in this strategic project. Turkey has had discussions with Qatar about setting up an oil terminal that would reach Turkey via Iraq. The Turkish government has attempted to get Iraq to link its southern oil fields, like Iraq’s northern oil fields, to the transit routes running through Turkey. This is all tied to Turkey’s visions of being an energy corridor and important lynchpin of transit.
The aims of re-routing oil away from the Persian Gulf would remove an important element of strategic leverage Iran has against Washington and its allies. It would effectively reduce the importance of the Strait of Hormuz. It could very well be a prerequisite to war preparations and a war led by the United States against Iran and its allies.
It is within this framework that the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline is being fostered by the United Arab Emirates to bypass the maritime route in the Persian Gulf going through the Strait of Hormuz. According to Gulf News, June 12, 2011 report, the project design was put together in 2006, the contract was issued in 2007, and construction was started in 2008. This pipeline goes straight from Abdu Dhabi to the port of Fujairah on the shore of the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea.
In other words, it will give oil exports from the U.A.E. direct access to the Indian Ocean. It has openly been presented as a means to ensure energy security by bypassing Hormuz and attempting to avoid the Iranian military. Again according to Gulf News, June 12, 2011 report, along with the construction of this pipeline, the erection of a strategic oil reservoir at Fujairah was also envisaged to also maintain the flow of oil to the international market should the Persian Gulf be closed off.
Aside from the Petroline (East-West Saudi Pipeline), Saudi Arabia has also been looking at alternative transit routes and examining the ports of it southern neighbours in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman and Yemen. The Yemenite port of Mukalla on the shores of the Gulf of Aden has been of particular interest to Riyadh. In 2007, Israeli sources reported with some fanfare that a pipeline project was in the works that would connect the Saudi oil fields with Fujairah in the U.A.E., Muscat in Oman, and finally to Mukalla in Yemen. The reopening of the Iraq-Saudi Arabia Pipeline (IPSA), which was ironically built by Saddam Hussein to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Iran, has also been a subject of discussion for the Saudis with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
If Syria and Lebanon were converted into Washington’s clients, then the defunct Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) could also be reactivated, along with other alternative routes going from the Arabian Peninsula to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea via the Levant. Chronologically, this would also fit into Washington’s efforts to overrun Lebanon and Syria in an attempt to isolate Iran before any possible showdown with Tehran.
The Iranian Velayat-90 naval drills, which extended in close proximity to the entrance of the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden off the territorial waters of Yemen, also took place in the Gulf of Oman facing the coast of Oman and the eastern shores of the United Arab Emirates. Amongst other things, Velayat-90 should be understood as a signal that Tehran is ready to operate outside of the Persian Gulf and can even strike or block the pipelines trying to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.
Geography again is on Iran’s side in this case too. Bypassing the Strait of Hormuz still does not change the fact that most of the oil fields belonging to GCC countries are located in the Persian Gulf or near its shores, which means they are all situated within close proximity to Iran and therefore within Iranian striking distance. Like in the case of the Hashan- Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline, the Iranians could easily disable the flow of oil from the point of origin. Tehran could launch missile and aerial attacks or deploy its ground, sea, air, and amphibious forces into these areas as well. It does not necessarily need to block the Strait of Hormuz; after all preventing the flow of energy is the main purpose of the Iranian threats.
US has been on the offensive against Iran using all means at its disposal. The tensions over the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf are just one front in a dangerous multi-front regional cold war between Iran and the US in the broader Middle East. Since 2001, the Pentagon has also been restructuring its military to wage unconventional wars with enemies like Iran.
Nonetheless, according to Foreign Policy magazine 2010 March-April edition, geography has always worked against the Pentagon and the U.S. has not found a solution for its naval dilemma in the Persian Gulf. Instead of a conventional war, US have had to resort to waging a covert, economic, and diplomatic war against Iran.