Dozens Of Oil Tankers Are Hovering Around Southern California Coast With Nowhere To Go

From The Daily Caller

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Chris White Tech Reporter April 24, 2020 4:54 PM ET

The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring a situation in which dozens of oil tanker vessels are floating around the Southern California coast as they wait to dock while the country wrestles with what to do with the current glut in crude.

Oil companies are storing excess supplies on giant vessels as the country and industry ponder how and where to offload the oil. There were 27 oil vessels churning up waters just off the Southwest Pacific coast Thursday, according to a press statement from the USCG.

“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,” Cmdr. Marshall Newberry said in the statement.

Newberry is managing the traffic jam from Los Angeles, California.

He added: “Coast Guard watchstanders, in partnership with the Marine Exchange of Southern California, are closely monitoring each anchorage to manage the increased number of tank vessels we’re seeing off the California coast.”

The Coast Guard is responsible for maritime safety, security and the environmental conditions of the country’s ports and waterways. (RELATED: ‘Uncharted Territory’: Energy Analysts Worry Oil Prices Could Fall Below Zero, Forcing Producers To Radical Measures)


The traffic jam came as the oil industry faces serious headwinds as consumer demand for crude fell off a cliff after U.S. officials enacted economic lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, which originated in China and is reportedly responsible for more than 150,000 deaths worldwide. Oil prices fell below zero Wednesday as producers struggle to give away their oil.

Saudi Arabia, Russia and other oil-producing nations’ intent to continue producing despite shrinking demand played a part in the calamity. President Donald Trump played a role in getting Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to drop output, bringing production to 9.7 million barrels a day. But the deal is unlikely to show results for another month, experts said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has not replied to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

57 thoughts on “Dozens Of Oil Tankers Are Hovering Around Southern California Coast With Nowhere To Go

  1. California’s love of foreign crude oil is obvious. California remains as the only state in continental America that imports most of its crude oil from foreign countries. In 1992 CA and AK accounted for 95% of the state’s demand for crude oil, today CA and AK account for a lowly 43% with the balance of 57% from foreign countries. California increased imports from foreign countries from 5 percent to 57 percent of total consumption. The imported crude oil cost California more than $60 million dollars a day being paid to oil-rich foreign countries, depriving Californians of jobs and business opportunities.

    • One of many unintended? consequences of irresponsible leadership that aggressively pushes counterproductive and otherwise unnecessary ‘green’ regulations. Not only is California depriving its citizens and businesses of opportunities, it’s harmful energy policies are pushing many out and keeping many away.

      It’s sad to see how in less than a generation California has transformed itself from one of the best places in the country to live and do business to one of the worst and it’s all a consequence of self aggrandizing ‘progressive’ politics. Consistently pleasant weather doesn’t have an infinite capability to overcome bad leadership and this limit has been reached.

      It’s chilling how blind the progressive left is to how detrimental their policies are to the citizens and businesses thy govern. Unfortunately, California does lead the country and it’s morphing into a massive service economy employing mostly illegal aliens that will ultimately collapse under its own weight.

      • But, but, but … Silicon Valley doesn’t use any petrol (to speak of). They’re all just tethered to their laptops … wherever the hipsters happen to be. And Silicon Valley taxes keep the State afloat … so whatever the SV hipsters “believe” is “green” … goes. EV’s abound in SV … and all the ugly fossil fuels burned to keep them charged up, ready to go “safely” shop at the local Trader Joe’s … are burned elsewhere. SV’s fossil fuel use is clogging the lungs of poor children living in the awful RED counties of CA. Not in their neighborhoods … so what do they care? Well, they “care” enough to tax the shit out of fossil fuels … cause they don’t use any … in their minds.

        CA politics in a nutshell. Emphasis on the “nut”

        • A lot of gasoline is used for commuting in Silicon Valley. Gridlock kills gas mileage and while the main benefit of EV’s is that they are very efficient in stop and go traffic, the nut jobs in Sacramento let them use the commuter lanes where their only redeeming social value is efficiently cancelled. I guess the progressive reward for virtue signaling is cancelling the virtue by offsetting any hardship.

    • The complete list of countries supplying California can be found here:
      California had to revise the carbon intensity of the average crude and fuels produced from those crudes due to the use of lower quality crude from more distant sources. This increased GHG emissions in the state by 500,000 MT/yr which costs consumers $200/MT in Low Carbon Fuel Standard Carbon Credit purchases. So the taxpayers of the state have to cough up another $100 million for the pleasure of importing crude from other countries.
      Californians pay $0.28/gal more in fuel costs over and above all the other taxes just for the LCFS compliance costs. The state implies that the Obligated Parties pay this cost, but it is just passed along to the consumer like any cost of manufacture. In the end, we pay for all government programs either directly through taxes or indirectly through cost of good sold. Doesn’t work any other way.

    • Hi Ron – I speculated the following last month. Pretty good call…

      Alternatively, she and fellow Dems were playing the stock market, like the Russians did with their recent “kill the oil price” scam. Short the market, kill the price, buy at the low, and ride it back up.
      Make billions…

      U.S. investigating multimillion-dollar trading fraud via OPEC+ insiders
      By BEN BAIN AND MATT ROBINSON on 4/23/2020

      WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) –The U.S. is investigating whether traders with inside information on Russia’s negotiations with other oil producing nations made hundreds of millions of dollars from illegal wagers on crude price swings, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

      The Commodity Futures Trading Commission probe is focused on whether aspects of the strategy that the Russian government pursued last month with other members of the OPEC+ coalition leaked out to market participants ahead of time, said the people who asked not to be named because the scrutiny isn’t public. For the same reason, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority is also investigating suspicious trades in futures contracts, one of the people said.

      The inquires predate the Monday spasms in oil markets that pushed U.S. prices into unprecedented negative territory.

      • The Commodity Futures Trading Commission probe is focused on .. yada, yada

        For the same reason, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority is also investigating suspicious trades .. yada, yada …

        Just wasting more taxpayer money because no one will be punished for their dastardly acts.

        Like Hillary Clinton, ….. they also have a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.

    • That is part of why California fights so hard to keep illegal immigrants for it’s control of the House. Against WUWT, Their eco-evangelists are going to promote up the clean air results from everybody in lockdown. The technocrats are making a lot of money too from locking everyone at home. Could CA lose the movie industry and tourism industry?

      • Andrew,

        Long term they’ll be loosing a lot more. They’ve already lost semiconductor manufacturing, data centers are on the way out, steel, aluminum and other energy intensive industries are long gone. Even tech is expanding and relocating to other states. The writing is on the wall as California’s ‘progressive’ politics has transformed the state into one of the least business friendly places in America, unless of course your business is supported by the fake science coming from the IPCC.

        The state is even on a trajectory to loose agriculture as the progressives demand benefits like health care and other benefits for the illegal aliens employed as part time farm labor.

    • $60 million a day, eh?
      That means that California is donating $12 million a day towards the cost of trrrorism.
      (20% of the total.)
      Not a good investment, I would say….

    • So, is it any wonder that CA is paying those SUPER high prices for gas? You’d think the good people of CA would say and DO something about that! I presume there ARE still some ‘good’ people left.

    • Can’t this oil be stored in large underground, hard rock caverns ? I guess they would have to be dry though. What are the geological storage options, if any ?

        • Let’s see how this works: We pump it out of the ground. But we have no current need for it and no place to put it so we pump it back into the ground.

          • No. We shut in production, when the price gets too low. You can’t pump oil back into a well. You would have to drill an injection well

          • At the risk of stating the obvious wouldn’t it make more sense to just leave it in the ground until we need it?

          • “At the risk of stating the obvious wouldn’t it make more sense to just leave it in the ground until we need it?”

            That’s exactly what was in my mind too.

          • It was needed, thats why it was pumped, then Chinese Disease Stupidity started and all bets are off.

      • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve primarily consists of hollowed out salt domes. The SPR currently has capacity for about 80 million additional barrels of oil. The statute authorizes the addition of about 300 million barrels of capacity. Democrats in Congress have blocked funding for all of this.

        Crude oil can’t just be stored in natural caverns. Most natural caverns were carved into limestone by groundwater. These caverns tend to be “plumbed” into regional groundwater systems.

        • There are several salt mines situate between Detroit and Syracuse, NY …… where one could store a vast quantity of crude oil.

          • Salt mines aren’t necessarily suitable for storage. Even the abandoned salt mines that are suitable would require extensive modications, which congressional Democrats would refuse to fund.

            The largest Bakken producer just shut in all of their production…


            Continental didn’t hedge… They can’t sell the oil for negative prices, there’s no place to store it… So, they shut it all in until prices recover.

          • YUP, … who would have ever believed that the US economy could have been “shut down” in less than 3 weeks …. without any of our enemies firing a “shot”?

            The sad fact is that it was our elected politicians (past n’ present) in each of the States and in Congress that are responsible for the mess they have created. And in my opinion, it will be many months before it “bottoms out”.

    • With domestic produced oil to help out the local producers I would add. If California wants to buy oil from elsewhere let them deal with it.

      700+ million barrel capacity and only half full but filling it is held up by political nonsense.

    • Could have been paid on Weds to add to the SPR. North America, perhaps under the new CUSMA Agreement, (old NAFTA) should have have expanded the SPR in all 3 countries by an order of magnitude and simply operated it to keep price stability for at least NA. If other allies had done so at the same time, then we would now be the new Cartel, for our own benefit. Buy and fill when oil is below $50, (or whatever price is required for stability) and sell and drain when the price goes higher. The profit goes to pay for the physical storage required. Offer the oil industry a carrot to participate and help off-set the set up cost.

      Not only then a strategic back up oil supply in case of real emergency, but a stabilizing force to keep the oil price in a range that is productive to producers and consumers long term. This boom/bust cycling and reliance on hostile foreign states just oscillates the economy around for no good reason.

    • Congress won’t free any money for filling the reserve.
      On the other hand Trump has decided to rent space in the reserve to those companies looking for a place to store some of their excess.

  2. Of course all that crude oil on those tankers will have been hedged forward – there is a massive contango in both crude and products right now – so the companies that have chartered these ships and who own the oil will be reaping huge profits even as they sail in circles.

    • I remember they did this before when The Saudi’s were trying to put the frackers out of business.

  3. I wonder what US current gasoline and diesel storage capacity is? Perhaps we should be filling those, as well as the strategery reserve, at bargain prices.

      • SPR only holds crude oil. It has capacity of 714 million bbl. There’s currently space for an additional ~80 million bbl. DOE has statutory authority to increase the capacity to 1 billion bbl. Democrats in Congress have blocked funding to top it off and would almost certainly block funding to expand it.

    • Dem’s blocked funding. Right now, the plan is to lease out space in the SPR for storage.

  4. The tankers shown in the photo appear to be empty. Perhaps waiting to fill up and provide storage?

      • David,
        A couple of the ships show their boot-topping [the anti-fouling below the ‘nice’ painted hull in company colours].
        That means those ships are only half-full [or, very possibly in ballast].


        • Interesting. If they’re here to take on a load of crude, you would think they would be allowed into the port.

  5. Peter Evans says: “The tankers shown in the photo appear to be empty.”
    If you go full screen, you will see that the tankers are riding low in the water with the bulbous noses underwater. Appear to be full to me.
    They ride very high out of the water when empty. This photo shows a full vs. non-full oil tanker:

    The bulbous noses are out of the water when they are empty:

    • Er, no, ro1 2.
      The bulbous bow will only be out of the water when the vessel is alongside and has pumped all the ballast ashore. At sea but with no cargo some tanks are filled with water to give stabulity and control The vessel is only completely full when all the boottop paint is under water, and these ones in the photo are either only part loaded or are in ballast because you can see quite clearly a lot of (usually red) boottop paint lower down the ships side from the usually darker topside paint

      And Marmaduke,
      They won’t be sailing in circles, they will put the anchor down and await developments.

      • The tankers off the Newport Beach coast are mainly Panamax/Aframax/ Suezmax; there are no VLCCs among them. The draft and vessel movement history are all visible via AIS transponder data

  6. Harkens back to the ’70’s, when the first of several oil price shocks hit the US economy. News stories of the day claimed that traders were keeping their oil tankers parked ‘offshore’, to await a rise in crude prices, and reap some type of a ‘windfall’ profit from off-loading the crude at a “better” price.

    The truth was that tankers were parked due to limitations on how many could dock next to facilities capable of off-loading their cargo. At the time, keeping a tanker parked would cost more than any ‘profit’ from off-loading at some better, future price. The US was importing more than half of the petroleum it used, back then (perhaps as much as three-fourths?)

    As Dr. Middleton probably recalls, along with me (yes, I know you’re not a Professor, but you’re closer to being one than I’ll ever be), this was when crude went from a price (in 1969 dollars) of $3 to about $10, and then around 1975, up to around $40. Part of the incentive to enroll in a Petroleum Exploration program at my local University (class of 1980).

    Regards to all,


  7. How are those ships “churning up water” if they are anchored?

    Sounds like this plandemic has some cheerleaders!

  8. The unintended consequences of this ‘command and control’ experiment, ostensibly to limit the Chinese virus infection rate, are surreal. Personal travel is minimized by the forced government lock down. Transportation fuel demand is down 60% as a result. Flotillas of anchored oil tankers, brimming with $15/bbl crude, extend as far as the eye can see. Ethyl alcohol refineries are shut down because of no demand for gasohol. Shell corn granaries are overflowing with last years crop because the alcohol refineries are shut down. Gasoline prices are down to $0.90/gal in Wisconsin, prices not seen since 1979. The whole damn supply chain is disrupted… and this is just one of many critical supply chains completely screwed by this ‘command and control’ experiment.

    “Cause and effect, chain of events,
    all of the chaos makes perfect sense.
    When you’re spinning round, things come undone…..
    Welcome to Earth, third rock from the sun!”

  9. Oil storage is not a problem, at all. There is more than enough oil storage in the world and in the US. We all know that.

    What is happening now (end of air travel, end of tourism, collapse in oil prices, massive unemployment in all countries except for China, and so on), is exactly what a think tank, would have predicted.

    The word ‘unintended’ is incorrectly used.

    Surprise Question: What country is the largest importer of Crude Oil?

    Answer! China….

    Our GDP has dropped 30% and our spending has increased by 200%.

    Our plan to get our economy back and running (which will not work) …

    ….is to pay the people and companies who are not working now until we cannot borrow any more.

    China has been able to absolutely, completely, weirdly stop the spread of this novel virus in their country.

    China is still running, no isolation. The deadly covid-19’s only effect on the Chinese GDP is the drop, in Chinese exports to the world.

    China’s GDP has only dropped 6%. China is the winner.

    It is exactly as if China knew how this virus would mutate and when the virus would be released. They completely quarantined the regions where it was released and ensured the WHO did not stop air traffic from the affected regions to the world.

    The virus initially first attacked the lungs, which made the serious cases in China, easy to find.

    The crafty virus then mutated so it attacked the throat first with a minor attack before hitting the lungs. This later mutation made covid-19 virus much more contagious novel virus.

    The US and all of the developed countries are in lockdown and the virus is not going away.

    • You have a crystal ball for your predictions? Is the battery switch on?

      A recent poll show a 20% favorability drop of China amongst Americans and I for one will work to make sure I never buy anything made in China again!

      Yes, I’m only one, but if you think Americans aren’t pissed at China, think again! And you can add most of the world to that list!

      Consider Japan has announced that it is pulling ALL of their companies out of China! ALL!! I’ve heard it will cost them $220 Billion! I’ve also heard other countries are doing the same or planning on pulling a big portion out of China!

      I’ve seen videos where business owners in China are taking hammers to their equipment; where they’re setting fire to whole manufacturing facilities (including their books) because the only way to get out from under the production quotas required by the CCP is to destroy it!

      Oh yeah, sounds like China is winning!! Biggest lie of the century, William! Keep believing economic numbers coming out of China because they were so accurate about the virus, weren’t they??


  10. On marinetraffic.Com if you look at long beach, ca. You can see 20 or so large oil tankers at anchor. I’m not sure how many would normally be there, but if a vessel did not have berth booked it would be normal to go slow to the destination to save fuel.

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