Iran is planning to move its primary export terminal from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman to avoid using the strategic Strait of Hormuz, President Hassan Rouhani stated in a televised speech on September 4, AFP reported.

He said that exports have already started shifting from the Khark Island terminal in the Gulf to the Bandar-e-Jask terminal on the Gulf of Oman, adding that the move would be completed by the end of his term in 2021.

“This is very important for me, it is a very strategic issue for me. A major part of our oil sales must move from Khark to Jask,” Rouhani stated at the inauguration of three new petrochemicals plants in the southern region of Aseluyah.

For tankers to reach the current terminal on Khark island, they have to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, significantly slowing down deliveries,

The Strait of Hormuz is also used by rivals to Iran in the Gulf including Saudi Arabia. Iran has previously threatened to block the strategic transit route as retaliation for sanctions on its oil industry and possible military action by the US.

In July, Rouhani stated that Iran has always guaranteed the security of the strait but warned the US to “not play with the lion’s tale”.

In theory, moving the terminal to the Gulf of Oman would allow Iran to continue oil exports even if the strait becomes closed.

US sanction on Iran’s energy sector will be re-imposed on November 4 at the end of the 180-day wind-down period.

About 35% of global oil shipments pass through the Strait of Hormuz, according to the US Energy Information Administration.