Oil supply vulnerability in time of plenty

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Oil supply vulnerability in time of plenty

The diplomatic rift that opened without much warning between gas-rich OPEC member Qatar and some of its prominent Arab neighbors on June 5 -- then quickly escalated into a full-blown embargo with the severance of land, sea and air links between the countries -- was a reminder that geopolitical risk is an ever-present shadow over the world's energy supplies.

Not that we needed a reminder. Every day, headlines testify to the tensions simmering just below the surface across the Middle East, a region that satisfies over a quarter of the world's oil demand, with cargoes sailing through its vital shipping lanes and vulnerable "choke points" like the Strait of Hormuz. This is not the first time that Qatar has been diplomatically isolated by its Gulf Cooperation Council peers. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in March 2014 recalled their ambassadors from Doha, accusing it of meddling in their domestic affairs.

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