January 4, 2012
Casiana Kennedy and Kahlil Lashley
An oil tanker looming on the seas of the Persian Gulf in Bandar Abbas, a port city on Iran’s southern coast. Large and overpowering, it is anything but something that can be ignored.
A scene of Bandar Abbas, Iran: a port city surrounded by sand and sun, now tainted with numerous looming carrier ships filled with “oil that no one wants to buy“ (Erdbrink). This city lying on the Persian Gulf has become a blocked storage space, a place no tourist would dream of visiting.
At the start of 2012, the European Union imposed an oil embargo on Iran as an effort to persuade the Middle Eastern nation to cease development of nuclear technology and weaponry. The embargo was signed and passed by all 27 nations of the European Union and was done so in hand with financial sanctions signed by the United States that froze Iranian assets held in Europe (Chu and Richter). Despite declarations made by Iranian officials claiming that the embargo and economic sanctions “will not affect Iran,” the harmful effects can be seen in the numbers: five months after the oil embargo, Iran lost about $10 billion in revenue due to the cuts on oil exports; since then approximately 70% of revenue has been lost (Krauss). The Iranian currency has fallen to a record low just weeks after the embargo, with 12,500 rials required to buy a single dollar (Davari). Additionally, trade of Iranian gold, diamonds and precious metals with the EU has been aborted, further pushing Iran into economic collapse (Dicolo).
Despite these economic pressures and tensions, Iran continues to refuse any disclosure of information regarding its nuclear development program and doing so, Iran continues its journey of self harm towards deserted landscape and dead space. Furthermore, aborting such nuclear developments seems out of the question. Tehran officials claim that the nuclear development program is intended for “peaceful” purposes, but inspections that have been proposed by the European Union and the United States to ensure the safety and “peacefulness” of the program have been declined (Chu and Richter). And so this issue that is causing urban decay and disruption springs from failure of Iran to cooperate and cease nuclear development.
From the European economical perspective, the situation’s severity spans several degrees. England, Germany, and France are hardly affected by the embargo, as they have not relied on Iran for oil supply. Contrasting this indifference are countries in southern Europe such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. These countries have felt the effects of the embargo more strongly due to their previous dependence on Iran for its relatively low cost oil supply. Greece, Italy and Spain are especially in economic danger due to a need for new, more costly source for oil (Chu and Richter).
Asian countries play their part as well. China, Iran’s largest client, has publicly stated that it will not succumb to pressure and will continue to purchase Iranian oil. However, China has reduced such purchases since the embargo, further adding to the economic downfall of Iran. South Korean imports of Iranian oil have fallen by almost 50 percent, and Japan is expected to decrease its purchases likewise. India, on the other hand, has continued trade with Iran, primarily of agricultural products, but has slightly decreased oil purchases (Erdbrink and Krauss).
The spatial problem lies in the fact that there is no space. Iran has already built floating storage space facilities that hold approximately 30 million barrels of oil (Saul), but its lack of land space has posed a need for filling the Iranian shorelines with both large and small carrier ships waiting for clients who are willing to buy the crude, excess oil in secret. Simultaneously, oil production has not ceased as Iran continues to produce oil in fear of damaging its wells (Erdbrink and Krauss), thus adding to the problem of insufficient space that Iran faces. As a result of the suffocating nature of these shorelines and ports, there is a natural shift away from these spaces that have suddenly acquired characteristics similar to those of landfills. People no longer want to stay there, fisherman can no longer work there, carrier ship owners do not want to be recognized, and connections to the rest of the nation are thus weakened.
Suddenly a nation that depended on international sea trade has to turn inwardly for economic strength, calling for a potential restructure of urban fabric. Iranian port cities such as Bandar Abbas have lost their primary purpose and become storage space, and insufficient storage space at that. And so, the effects of the oil embargo and financial sanctions are not only economic and political problems, they are not only problems of safety and possible nuclear danger, the effects are simultaneously problems of space, or a lack of space. The looming tankers that store the crude oil that can no longer be exported are not only an impediment due to the dangerous inherent disposition of the oil they store, they are also an impediment in that they act as blockers that separate the Persian Gulf from one of Iran’s largest and most significant port cities (Saul). As a result, the exterior is forced to orient away from the city and the nation, and similarly, the interior is forced to orient itself away from this potentially dangerous edge condition.
Does the city shoreline suddenly become dead space? Or is there an opportunity to eliminate or at least diminish potential hazardous effects of the situation through new architectural development that could act as a safe medium through which political, economic and nuclear tensions can be neutralized? How can architecture create space when there is no space? Perhaps a network of specifically programed spaces built for oil containment can be created that are organized in such a way that allows a port city to remain a port city, a tourist hotel plaza to remain a tourist hotel plaza, and so on. Such a network would be separated from city centers and places that people visit, places that are now in danger of becoming oil landfills.
The questions posed here are both of a physical and a political nature because a sensible solution, a solution of healthy networks are more feasibly realized if Iran decides to cooperate and essentially liberate its landscape in doing so. Healthy oil trade is required for the liberation of Iranian cities and ports, and nuclear compliance for the safety of society is required for healthy oil trade. This persistent resistance to comply with Europe and the United States is not only damaging Iran economically, it is also damaging the nations’ landscape and physical structure, and significantly the potential it has to become a safe oil resource for the world.
Iranian flag over oil factory juxtaposed next to flames, representing a sense of destruction that could potentially ensue.
Iranian Oil factory in continued use despite the oil sanctions. The reason for Iran’s continuous oil production is fear of damaging wells if production ceases.
A political cartoon depicting the European Union’s embargo on Iranian oil and Iran’s reaction to losing a large portion of its clients and thus revenue.
Chu, Henry and Richter, Paul. “EU Imposes Oil Embargo on Iran.” Los Angeles Times, 01 24, 2012. (Accessed September 9, 2013). http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/24/world/la-fg-eu-iran-sanctions-20120124
The origins and motives of the oil embargo placed on Iran by the European Union are discussed in this article along with the roles Asian countries have played in Iran’s economy as a result of the embargo, shortly after it was placed.
Dicolo, Jerry. “EU’s Embargo on Iran Oil Goes into Effect.” The Wall Street Journal, 07 01, 2012. (Accessed September 4, 2013). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303649504577496463851879258.html.
Discussed in this article are the additional consequences of the embargo such as the European Union’s ceasing of trade of Iranian gold and diamonds.
Saul, Johnathan. “Iran parks millions of oil barrels on tankers as buyers retreat.” Reuters, 04 24, 2012. (Accessed September 12, 2013). http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/24/us-iran-shipping-oil-idUSBRE93N0XX20130424
The consequences of storing the sanctioned oil is described, along with the amounts of oil in excess.
Erdbrink , Thomas, and Krauss Clifford. “Oil Embargo Leads Iran to Disguise Tankers.” New York Times, 07 04, 2012. (Accessed September 4, 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/world/middleeast/oil-embargo-leads-iran-to-disguise-tankers.html?pagewanted=all.
Iran’s revenue downfalls are described here, along with the tankers that block a major Iranian port city.
Davari, Mohammad. “Iran currency tumbles to new record low.” Google Hosted News, 01 23, 2012. (Accessed September 4, 2013). http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jLDVM6g2HmkVUMLfUEB9–va5MGQ?docId=CNG.f2aa3559729718e5b4dffcdfe0b84c2b.4a1
Davari describes the embargo’s effects on a more widespread scale, causing the currency to fall to a new record low shortly after the embargo has been placed.
Saul, Johnathan. “Iran’s seaborne trade suffers as sanctions mount.” Reuters, US edition, 02 09, 2012. (Accessed September 9, 2013). http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/09/us-iran-shipping-trade-idUSTRE81817E20120209
This article discusses how the financial sanctions placed on Iran by the United States has affected Iran’s vital sea trade industry. Essentially, the sanctions are causing Iran’s economy and trade industry to gradually collapse and still Iran fails to comply and allow inspections on its nuclear program.
Erdbrink, Thomas and Krauss, Clifford. “Oil Embargo Leads Iran to Disguise Tankers” New York Times, 07 04, 2012. (Accessed September 9, 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/world/middleeast/oil-embargo-leads-iran-to-disguise-tankers.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Banar Abbas, one of Iran’s most significant port cities that open towards the Persian Gulf, located in southern Iran is depicted in this article. Described are the “hulking” tankers that float on the shore, storing the oil that rarely any nation wants to purchase.
Pessin, AL. “EU Imposes Oil Embargo on Iran.” Voice of America, 01 22, 2012. (Accessed September 9, 2013). http://www.voanews.com/content/eu-agrees-to-iranian-oil-embargo-137886448/150999.html
This article summarizes the Oil embargo placed on Iran and also discusses the many other restrictions EU has put on Iranian government, all in effort of persuading Iran to cease potentially destructive nuclear programs.
Khoy , Bazar, ed. Wikipedia. s.v. “Sanctions against Iran.” (Accessed September 9, 2013). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctions_against_Iran
This encyclopedia entry also summarizes the restrictions placed on Iranian government, but more importantly reveals the history of mistakes the Iranian government has made, making it weaker.
“EU Slaps Long-Feared Oil Embargo on Iran over Nuclear Program – See more at: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=135991
This source discusses the reaction of the Iranian press to the decisions made by European Union. It also describes how Iran suffers from the loss of revenue as a result of the embargo.
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<a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP1Eor36BnM” title=”EU to Embargo Iranian Oil”></a>