Iran, Russia, and China will begin on Saturday joint navy drills in the northern Indian Ocean, an Iranian military spokesman said on Wednesday, amid simmering tensions in the Middle East throughout this year.

According to comments from Iranian military spokesman General Abolfazl Shekarchi, as carried by Associated Press, the joint four-day exercise will be aimed at promoting security in the region and will extend as far as the Gulf of Oman—the gulf connecting the Arabian Sea with the world’s most critical oil chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, and with the Persian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil chokepoint in the world with daily oil flows averaging 21 million bpd, or the equivalent of 21 percent of global petroleum liquids consumption. According to EIA estimates, 76 percent of the crude oil and condensate that moved through the Strait of Hormuz last year went to Asian markets, with China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore the top destinations.

Several high-profile incidents this year have increased the tension between Iran and the West in the Middle East and in the Strait of Hormuz, which is in close proximity to Iranian coasts. 

In the summer, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after the British overseas territory Gibraltar had earlier seized an Iranian oil tanker with the help of the UK Royal Marines.