High cost of protecting oil shipments

The Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean

A climate skeptic claims that we cannot afford to use more green energy.


The U.S. is planning to conduct minesweeping exercises with helicopters, underwater drones, and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. The goal is to keep the Strait of Hormuz open for oil shipments from Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Part of the argument for US assuming this financial burden, is that if oil supplies are interrupted, there is likely to be a spike in the price of oil, which can reduce market confidence and shrink our economy.

The U.S. has protected access to oil in the Middle East for decades, and this policy continues today. It’s not cheap. A Princeton University study estimated that it cost the U.S. $7.3 trillion, over half the current U.S. national debt, solely to keep aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf from 1976 to 2007. The U.S. military budget is around $600 billion a year now, A substantial percentage of that is devoted to protecting trade routes and trying to ensure that nations with large oil reserves are friendly to our corporations.

One analyst estimates that we spend $30 to $75 billion a year in peacetime defending the Persian Gulf area, and many billions more for wars.

Retrieval of the oil is an expensive proposition. It would require an investment of $50 billion to finance increases in Iraq’s production of oil, and more billions to finance a water project to help force the oil out of the ground, according to a chairman with Royal Dutch Shell.

What US citizens should be asking is the amount by which we could reduce the military budget if clean energy and efficiency techniques took away our need for foreign oil.