Bloomberg News

Strait of Hormuz Not Closed, Iran Foreign Ministry Says

December 14, 2011

(Updates with ministry comment in third paragraph.)

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Strait of Hormuz remains open to shipping, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said, after oil prices surged amid speculation that vessels might be blocked from using the strategic waterway.

The spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said reports about the strait’s closure were untrue. Oil prices spiked by as much as 3.6 percent today in New York and London.

“These claims are sometimes made, but they are by people who have no role, no official title or authority,” Mehmanparast said by telephone from Tehran.

About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, about a sixth of global consumption, flows through the waterway between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, confirmed the strait was open.

“There are no indications of any disruptions in, or in the vicinity of, the Strait of Hormuz,” she said in an e-mail. “The flow of maritime traffic is normal.”

U.S. crude for January delivery jumped $3.48 a barrel to as much as $101.25 on the New York Mercantile Exchange before easing to $100.01 at 11:59 a.m. Brent crude rose $3.84 a barrel to $111.10 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange before slipping to $109.43 a barrel.

Iran’s state-run Fars news agency reported earlier today that the country’s military is set to conduct drills to practice closing the strait, citing parliamentarian Parviz Sorouri.

“If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure,” Sorouri was quoted as saying. His comments first appeared yesterday on the website of the state- run Iranian Students News Agency before the report was withdrawn without an explanation.

--Editors: Bruce Stanley, Raj Rajendran.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net


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