Jan 10, 2020

How an escalation in the Iran conflict could help Russian oil

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Photo: Kirill Kudryavstev/AFP via Getty Images

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."

Go deeper...What Middle East crisis? Why oil prices aren't rising

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Massive demonstrations put police response to unrest in the spotlight

Washington State Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd in Seattle during a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd. Photo: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

The response of some officers during demonstrations against police brutality in the U.S. has been criticized for being excessive by some officials and Black Lives Matter groups and leaders.

Why it matters: The situation is tense across the U.S., with reports of protesters looting and burning buildings. While some police have responded with restraint and by monitoring the protests, others have used batons, tear gas and other chemicals and devices to disperse protesters and, in some cases, journalists.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. cities crack down on protesters

The scene near the 5th police precinct during a demonstration calling for justice for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Saturday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Major U.S. cities have implemented curfews and called on National Guard to mobilize as thousands of demonstrators gather across the nation to continue protesting the death of George Floyd.

The state of play: Hundreds have already been arrested as tensions continue to rise between protesters and local governments. Protesters are setting police cars on fire as freeways remain blocked and windows are shattered, per the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials are using tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds and send protesters home.

Journalists get caught in the crosshairs as protests unfold

A man waves a Black Lives Matter flag atop the CNN logo during a protest in response to the police killing of George Floyd outside the CNN Center on May 29. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Dozens of journalists across the country tweeted videos Saturday night of themselves and their crews getting arrested, being shot at by police with rubber bullets, targeted with tear gas by authorities or assaulted by protestors.

Why it matters: The incidents show how easy it can be for the media to entangled in the stories they cover, especially during a time of civil unrest.