Oil & War with Iran

Alex Kamu
2 min readJul 27, 2019


Photo by abolfazl bahadori on Unsplash

Here’s the thing about a potential war involving some (or all) of the oil countries — aside from the dreadful human cost, it would probably spell the end of Middle East oil as a strategic resource.

As of this writing, there is tremendous pressure to reduce oil usage by virtually all of the powers. The geopolitics are ugly — both in terms of climate change and the grim reality that both side lose when dealing with the resource curse.

The smarter oil countries know that if the price of oil goes up, it just makes renewables much, much more cost effective. There’s a strong moral argument for renewables — if there isn’t an economic argument for oil… well, then. At that point your choices boil down to authoritarians making people use oil, or, uhh, nostalgia.

If war breaks out in the Straits of Hormuz, the price of oil will go up fast. That’s maybe good if you want to make one last juice up of your oil now, but will almost certainly wipe out the value of the oil sold even a year later.

The real problem for Iran — and Iran’s economy — isn’t really addressed one way or the other by a potential war. The real problem is what happens as renewables start to hockey stick. Commercial solar is already cheaper than oil.

The threat of war may be a nice distraction, and a reminder of the impact of US sanctions.

An actual war, one that shuts down the Straits?

It’s hard to see how that does much beyond dramatically accelerate the collapse of oil.

And maybe Iran.

Then again, maybe that’s the point.