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Nearly 30 tankers anchored off Southern California amid oil glut

Apr 24, 2020 10:39 AM

The Coast Guard steps up monitoring in response to the 'unique nature' of the situation

U.S. Coast Guard photo

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(SAN PEDRO, Calif.) — The Coast Guard is monitoring the increased presence of oil tanker vessels near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. There were 27 tanker vessels off the coast of Southern California on Thursday afternoon.

The Coast Guard is the principal federal agency responsible for maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship in U.S. ports and waterways. 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.

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 watch standers, 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."

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.

The Maritime Transportation System is an integrated network that consists of 25,000 miles of coastal and inland waters and rivers serving 361 ports. The MTS supports $4.6 trillion of economic activity each year and accounts for the employment of more than 23 million Americans.

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Editor's note: Depressed oil prices have resulted in onshore tank farms filling up, with product increasingly being stored in tankers at sea. “It’s the first time ever that we get more calls to book ships to store oil than to move it," a shipbroker in Singapore recently told The Wall Street Journal.

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