Daniel J. Graeber
Oil Price.com 
November 27, 2012
In mid-December, the U.S. military will have only one aircraft carrier positioned in the Persian Gulf region for the first time in two years. At the same time, the Iranian navy said it was kicking off a 10-day exercise in the region. Oil prices spiked when Iran early this year threatened to close oil-shipping lanes in the region. If talks scheduled for December between Tehran and the IAEA turn sour, there exists for Iran the potential to exploit the security vacuum in the region and use its defensive position for geopolitical gain.
The U.S. Navy announced  that, for about two months, there will be only one aircraft carrier based in the Middle East region because of unexpected repair work needed on USS Nimitz. A Navy commander said it was the “right thing to do” to leave the military one carrier short in the region, a first  since December 2010. At the same time, the Iranian navy announced plans to conduct a 10-day drill to display what Tehran said was a way for the Islamic republic to “display its might and deterrence power.”
In January, oil prices were moving fast beyond the $100 per barrel mark in part because of tensions with Iran, which had threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz in response to increased sanctions pressure. The U.S. Energy Department describes  the strait as the “world’s most important oil checkpoint.” Last year, about 17 million barrels oil per day traveled through the area, which represented about 35 percent of the world’s maritime oil shipments. Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pipelines in place to compensate for any closure, though each of those has their limitations.