Thursday 26 March 2015 4:26 pm

This map shows why airstrikes in Yemen are pushing up oil prices

Yemen doesn't actually produce that much oil compared to some other Middle East nations.

But news that it been hit by air strikes from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies sent global oil prices berserk today. Nervous investors helped push Brent crude, the global benchmark, as high as $59.78 per barrel, or a two-and-a-half week high.

But investors aren't actually that concerned about less oil barrels coming out of this tiny country. What they're really worried about is the Bab el-Mandab, a key route for the global shipment of oil.

Over 3.4m barrels per day passed through the two-mile strait in 2013, according to the International Energy Administration. And its closure would "force tankers to sail around the southern tip of Africa to reach European, North American, and South American markets".

The map below shows Yemen is located right next to the Bab el-Mandab (in the bottom left-hand corner), meaning any inflammation of geopolitical tensions there increases the risk of this important strait closing.

Source: International Energy Administration (IEA)