Tue. Nov 15th, 2022

Video released by the U.S. Coast Guard Thursday shows dozens of oil tankers idling off the coast of Los Angeles and Long Beach as demand for fuel plunges amid the stay-at-home orders.

The 27 tankers lining the coast prompted the Coast Guard to ramp up its presence along the coastline.

“Due to the unique nature of this situation, the Coast Guard is constantly evaluating and adapting our procedures to ensure the safety of the vessels at anchor and the protection of the surrounding environment,” L.A. Coast Guard Cmdr. Marshall Newberry said in a statement.

Crude oil prices dropped below $0 Monday to $-37.63 a barrel for the first time in history. And though prices have since slightly recovered, crude oil is filling up commercial storage space as demand for fuel is dwindling with people hunkered down at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The tankers essentially have no place to go. They’re floating storage.

Satellite images show tankers off the coast of Port of L.A./Long Beach on April 23, 2020. (Sentinel-2/European Space Agency)
Satellite images show tankers off the coast of Port of L.A./Long Beach on April 23, 2020. (Sentinel-2/European Space Agency)

They were seen anchored off much of the California coast, stretching from L.A. to the Bay Area.

Each tanker is the size of two or three football fields. Together, they’re carrying 20 million barrels of crude oil — that’s enough to satisfy 20% of the world’s oil needs, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.

It’s the most crude oil to ever float off the West Coast at once, according to Bloomberg and Kpler, which tracks the global movement of oil tankers.

The volume of oil stored on ships has jumped by 70% since the beginning of March, according to Kpler. And floating storage around the globe has idled for days.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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