The Two Most Important Kinds of Transportation Routes:

Oil Tankers and Oil Pipelines have routes that allow for oil to travel over seas, over borders, and all around the world. 

Oil Tankers

Oil Shipped Around the World

 The Transfer of oil from one country to another is a very large task.  Billions of barrels of oil a day are shipped in Oil Tankers to various destinations all over the world.  There are many different shipping routes, but there are six major transit chokepoints” which deal with the most traffic of oil tankers and are areas of high risk for something to go wrong with the oil transfer.  The Strait of Hormuz, The Strait of Malacca, The Suez Canal, Bab el-Mandab, The Turkish Straits, and The Panama Canal are different areas of the sea that connect large bodies of water and can sometimes create bottleneck situations.  The Strait of Hormuz is an area where tankers from Persian Gulf nations (mainly the Middle East) travel through to get to their destinations in the United States, Japan, China, and Western Europe, connecting the Persian Gulf with the Gilf of Oman.  About 40% of all Oil Tanker traffic passes through The Strait of Hormuz because (as seen on the graph below) the Middle East is the leader of oil production, thus making them the lead exporter of oil.  The Strait of Malacca is a smaller area of passage than most chokepoints, but it is one of the most unsafe passages of any transport route in the world.  It is the target of many terrorist attacks because of its bottleneck design in the Singapore Strait.  The area of passage is located in between the island of Malaysia and Indonesia because it is the shortest route to get Oil into Japan, China, and other Asian countries.  The Suez Canal in Egypt connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, only allowing smaller tankers to pass through, transporting Oil mainly to Europe, but also to the Unites States.  The Oil comes from some revenues in Asia but mainly from Saudi Arabia, again, making this chokepoint an export region for the Middle East.  Bab-el Mandab is a chokepoint between the Red Sea and The Gulf of Aden which begins the only transportation route that transports Persian Gulf Oil exclusively.  Many of the times, the oil the Persian Gulf and Middle Eastern countries export gets sifted in with other country’s oil, which makes the Bab el-Mandab unique.  The oil from this area travels directly to Europe and the Unites States.  Both Bosporus and Dardanelles are canals that make up The Turkish Straits and basically divide Asian countries on the Black Sea from European countries that end the Mediterranean Sea.  Oil that is being transported out of Russia and other regions of the Black Sea first encounter the Bosporus which is a small canal leading into a sort of mini-sea, which then leads to the Dardanelles canal which carries the Tankers out into the Mediterranean sea.  These tankers end up in Europe, providing them with much of their oil.  The sixth Chokepoint is The Panama Canal that takes Oil generated in the United States to other areas of the United States and to Latin American countries.  All of these transportation routes are listed in order from most barrels transported per day to the least.  The Strait of Hornez transports the most with about 16.5 billion barrels per day, while The Panama Canal only transfers about ½ a million. 

Oil is transported to and from other various places, but the main producers and consumers are depicted in the bar graph.  North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia (the former USSR), Europe, and Asia comprise most of the world, creating a situation where international over-sea transportation of oil via oil tankers is vital and extremely valuable.   

Oil Tanker Shipping Routes

Production and Consumption Determine Transportation Routes
Graph made by Carly Klinger from picture:

Strait of Hormuz (The Most Important Transit Choke point)

Oil Pipelines

The Easiest Way to Travel

Oil Pipelines are the most efficient method of transporting oil.  In the maps below, it can be seen that pipeline routes are very intricate and widespread.  The pipelines are designed to take oil all over the country that they inhibit. America is the best example of these pipeline routes because America has the longest cumulative mileage of pipeline in the world.  There are so many pipelines throughout the world that it is nearly impossible to find every single pipeline pump and location, but the major oil consuming and producing countries have the most total mileage of pipeline.  The areas in which oil is produced are generally located far away from main areas of consumption, large market places, cities, and companies that need oil for production.  The routes that these pipelines travel are able to be extremely direct because the quickest way from one point to another is by traveling in a straight line.  Pipelines do not disrupt their surroundings allowing them to be built in the most direct routes possible.  The fact that oil travels quickly though the pipelines and their ability to directly provide consumer areas with the needed amount is making pipelines more and more popular, especially in the United States.   

American Pipeline Routes

Russian and European Pipelines

Asian Pipeline Network Now and in the Future

Middle East Pipelines and Proposed Pipelines

A Link to More Information