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Russia would emerge as a winner if the U.S.-Iran conflict — which has cooled off — greatly escalates, argues Anna Mikulska, a senior fellow with UPenn's Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.
The big picture: That could result via the unlikely — but not impossible — event that Iran shut down oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping lane for Middle East oil and nearly 20 million barrels per day pass through the narrow channel.
The intrigue: If there's a shutdown, "Russia could become a crucial market stabilizer deriving significant financial, strategic, and diplomatic benefits," she writes.
- "Not only does Russia produce the 'right' quality of crude (a substitute for the crude potentially locked in by the Strait of Hormuz), but according to a Russian government statement, it holds spare capacity of 500,000 barrels per day."
- Elsewhere Mikulska notes that an Iranian blockade "could potentially strengthen Russia’s position vis-a-vis energy-hungry Asia since about three-fourths of the crude that passes through the Strait lands there."