Supertankers stuck in an insane traffic jam at sea due to low oil prices

Oltre cento super-petroliere sono bloccate al largo dei porti di tutto il mondo. Con duecento milioni di barili a bordo.

200 million barrels of oil are currently “floating” in world’s seas, stored in about 125 supertankers waiting in line outside ports. Low oil prices led to a supply glut. So, the amount of crude oil to be shipped is so huge that barrels can’t be offloaded even in the largest ports.

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Low oil pices cause a global oil plunge ©Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A 40-kilometre line

Reuters reveals yet another crazy consequence of oil global market. The huge vessels – they would form a 40-kilometre line if they queue up – are shipping oil worth around 7.5 billion dollars at current market prices. One captain told, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, his tanker had been anchored off Qingdao in north-eastern China since late March. “Fortunately, we have a piano, drums, crew who play guitar, and more than 1,000 DVDs”.


Currently, offloading vessels in international ports takes three weeks on average. In December, delays worsen and three oil tankers – the Vendome Street, the Atlantic Star and the Atlantic Titan – preferred to go back. They were crossing the Gulf of Mexico headed to Europe.


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An oil tanker off the coasts of California © David McNew/Getty Images

9 supertankers are ready to set sail

According to the CNN, the amount of “floating” crude oil soared to nearly triple the normal level in November. In other words, shipping vessels are turning into floating storages – with the environmental risks they bring about.


Moreover, other supertankers are ready to set sail. They were commissioned when oil prices were high enough to expect huge revenues for big companies. These new vessels – filled with more oil – will soon sail the seas. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is likely to further lower oil prices. On the other hand, it will further increase the “traffic jam” at sea.


Cover photo ©Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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