The battle for oil intensified

Operation Desert Storm focuses the eyes of the world on the Middle East
Operation Desert Storm focuses the eyes of the world on the Middle East

The battle for oil intensified

Operation Desert Storm was one of the largest military operations in history, and followed the breakdown of diplomatic efforts to end the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. A coalition of thirty nine countries, led by the US, attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait and Iraq.

The conflict saw millions displaced and thousands killed and came at an enormous cost to the environment.

It had a dramatic effect on markets globally. After the loss of supplies from Iraq and Kuwait, oil prices initially soared from an average price of around $18 a barrel before the invasion to just north of $40. One day after the attack on Iraq, oil prices plunged and settled at roughly $21, as greater shipments came in from other producers, and world oil demand lagged. While the actual operation lasted less than six weeks, ending in February 1991, many of the alliances forged and battles fought then shaped the political landscape of both the Middle East and its relationship with the west today.
On Monday, 9 March 2020, oil prices posted the largest single day drop since Desert Storm, as the Coronavirus stoked fears of a global recession and OPEC failed to strike a deal to slow production, resulting in Saudi Arabia cutting its export oil prices.

Key facts

43 days:

From start to finish, Desert Storm only lasted 43 days.

$61 billion

The estimated costs of the Gulf war

100 hours

The ground war lasted only 100 hours before Iraq capitulated.

27 February

Kuwait is liberated

955 000 soldiers 

50,000 paramilitary forces