Surge in Oil Tankers at Anchor off California

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 24, 2020

There were 27 oil tankers off the coast of Southern California on Thursday afternoon. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Aidan Cooney)

There were 27 oil tankers off the coast of Southern California on Thursday afternoon. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Aidan Cooney)

An increased number of oil tankers sit at anchor near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the volume of oil products held in floating storage around the globe has skyrocketed in the past month amid what analysts are saying is the biggest oil glut in history.

There were 27 tanker vessels off the coast of Southern California Thursday afternoon, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, who is monitoring the situation to help manage the surge.

Oil traders are struggling to find enough ships and other means to store oil products as conventional storage facilities fill up due to abundant supply and plummeting demand amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vessel Traffic Service provides anchorage assignments based off physical requirements, such as a vessel's draft, length, type, as well as logistical requirements such as duration of stay and intentions while at anchor.

"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," said Cmdr. Marshall Newberry, from Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach. "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."

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach coordinates operations in an area of responsibility spanning more than 350 miles along the California coast, from Morro Bay to San Clemente and encompassing the nation’s largest port complex.

Vessel Traffic Service Los Angeles-Long Beach is jointly operated by the Coast Guard and Marine Exchange of LA/LB from the Vessel Traffic Center located in San Pedro. The VTS assists in the safe navigation of vessels approaching the ports of LA/LB in an area extending 25 miles out to sea from Point Fermin.


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