Coast Guard eyes more than 2 dozen oil tankers off LA coast as coronavirus causes glut

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Video released by the Coast Guard in Los Angeles offers a stark illustration of the global oil glut amid coronavirus lockdowns in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The brief footage shows more than two dozen tankers -- each the length of several football fields -- anchored Thursday off the coast near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

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NBC 4 Los Angeles described the tankers -- essentially floating storage tanks filled with oil --.as being neatly distanced from each other.

"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," Coast Guard Cmdr. Marshall Newberry said Thursday.

"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," he said.

The Coast Guard reported finding more than two dozen oil tankers off the coast of Southern California Thursday afternoon.

The Coast Guard reported finding more than two dozen oil tankers off the coast of Southern California Thursday afternoon. (U.S. Coast Guard)

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The tankers have no place to offload the crude, which is going unused as closures of businesses and restrictions on travel -- meant to slow the spread of the virus -- continue to cause a plunge in demand for oil, The Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

“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,” American Petroleum Institute spokesman Scott Lauermann told the paper.

Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal patrols the coast of Southern California, April 23, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Third Class Aidan Cooney)

Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal patrols the coast of Southern California, April 23, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Third Class Aidan Cooney)

Stocks fell sharply Tuesday after U.S. oil futures plunged below zero -- a shocking development.

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The cost to have a barrel of U.S. crude delivered in May plummeted to negative $37.63. It was at roughly $60 at the start of the year.