Stunning video shows dozens of oil tankers off L.A. coast with nowhere to go


Video released by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a flotilla of oil tankers anchored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect global demand for oil.

Dozens of tankers — each the length of two or three football fields — are seen lining the Southern California coast.

The Coast Guard has increased its presence around nearly 30 ships that are acting mostly as floating storage tanks for oil. The crude product is going unused as closures of businesses and restrictions on travel — meant to slow the spread of the virus — continue to cause a falloff in demand for oil.

“The supply chain is being backed up, and tankers are now being used to store product that would have originally gone out to the supply chain,” said Scott Lauermann, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute.


Oil tankers carrying enough crude to satisfy 20% of the world’s consumption are gathered off California’s coast with nowhere to go as fuel demand collapses.

April 21, 2020

Oil prices crashed at the start of the week, with one benchmark falling below zero — traders were paying others to take it off their hands — but have since regained some of that ground.

Prior to the pandemic, the world demand for oil was roughly 100 million barrels per day. Some estimates say the global demand is now down by 30 million barrels a day, Lauermann said.

Officials say it’s not usual for the Coast Guard to keep an eye on critical ships entering Southern California’s ports. It is not clear how long the vessels will remain off the coast.

“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 from Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach said in a statement.