Saudi Aramco expects to finish expanding its East-West pipeline by September, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source. This would increase the amount of oil it can export from the Red Sea rather than the Persian Gulf and, crucially, would allow it to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.
The expansions will increase its capacity from 5mn barrels per day (bpd) to 7mbpd, Bloomberg reported, and according to its data, Saudi Aramco exported 6.84mbpd in June, most of which went through the Strait of Hormuz. Saudi Arabia has typically used the strait because most of its customers are in Asia, and its oilfields are in closer proximity to the Persian Gulf rather than the Red Sea.
The Strait of Hormuz has been at the centre of recent regional tensions, with attacks on two tankers staged nearby, and most recently, a UK-flagged vessel seized by Iran. Around one-fifth of global oil production passes through this strategic chokepoint, and the increased tension saw shipping rates jolt following the attacks.
However, the East-West pipeline was also targeted, with two pumping stations attacked by explosive-laden drones. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, and US officials say that their attack was staged from Iraq.