Arab Emirates is seeking alternative export routes for its oil

The federation opened a naval base Oct. 20 at Fujairah on its east coast, south of the entrance to the strait in the Gulf of Oman.

It will play a key role in plans to construct an overland route from Abu Dhabi, the emirate that contains more than 90 percent of the federation’s oil, to the sea without using the narrow, horseshoe-shaped strait.

Abu Dhabi is reported to be building two pipelines — one for oil, the other for natural gas — across the desert to Fujairah, where it plans to construct a huge export terminal and an oil storage facility.

“A naval base in Fujairah will give the emirates more capabilities to protect its economic zone and its strategic facilities, the port down there which will be a major point of export for oil and gas,” said Riad Kahwaji, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that if the strait were closed, only about 3 million barrels of oil per day could realistically be redirected through Saudi Arabia through a trans-Arabian pipeline to the Red Sea port of Yanbu on the kingdom’s west coast.

There would no other way to transport the 31 million tons a year of LNG — 18 percent of world consumption — that Qatar and the emirates export.

However, the emirates and Saudi Arabia are planning to construct a major rail network across the peninsula that would allow them to move oil and gas exports overland to the west to the Red Sea or north through Iraq to Turkey to join the European energy grid, as well as to bring in imports.

“The first of these projects,” a north-south minerals rail link, “is now only weeks from completion,” the Middle East Economic Survey reported this week.