Cyber attacks, for example, could play a surprisingly large role in case of conflict, rubbing up the oil system or causing damage. "Iran has significant cyber capabilities, and in the case of a significant US military action against Iran, one can expect them to exploit these capabilities against the United States and its allies," said John MacWilliams, an associate deputy and chief of the Department of Energy's Obama Department of Energy. administration.
Mr. MacWilliams said the Pentagon is monitoring Iran's cyber skills and is likely to have plans to counter them. "It is a more important reason that being difficult to get military action from spreading quickly to a major conflict can be difficult."
"What the market thinks is that although these events are important and remarkable, so far no impact on actual production or exports has been," said Neil Atkinson, head of the oil industry and the market section of the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based multinational group.
Analysts also say that oil installations are resilient, with most injuries easily and quickly repaired, the Saudis have undergone a series of wars in the Gulf and have been building up installations with potential threats in mind. "They have no prayer," said Sadad I. Husseini, former head of Aramco, talked about the possibility of serious disruption of the kingdom's oil exports.
In the event of a major conflict, some analysts have suggested that the great presence of US military forces in the area would mean that Iran would have limited success if it tried to stop the oil streams from the Gulf. "Iran is still a difficult concept nset military power if things escalate, "said Anthony H. Cordesman, a Gulf defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr. Cordesman added that the consequences of a conflict in the region "would be higher prices and limited flows, not a prolonged closure of the Gulf."
With territory along most of the eastern side of the Gulf, including the vital strait of Hormuz, Iran is well positioned to cause problems. Mr. Binnie said that in a war situation, Iran could shoot anti-ship missiles with radars attached to large targets. "Tankers would be extremely vulnerable in that scenario," he said.