The world’s densest network of oil pipelines runs through Saudi Arabia’s Shia heartland, now the epicentre of a deadly struggle.
Saudi Arabia’s drastic decision to behead the Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr marks a point of no return in the bitter Sunni-Shia conflict engulfing the region. It is a dangerous escalation in the Kingdom’s struggle with Iran for regional hegemony.
Brent crude jumped to a three-week high of $38.91 a barrel as traders began to price in the first flickers of political risk. Roughly a fifth of global oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz, where tankers would in extremis have to run the gauntlet past Iranian warships.