Oil tankers — 27 of them — have been spotted lurking off the coast of southern California. The footage was taken by the U.S. Coast Guard, as the Coast Guard is monitoring the “increased presence” of oil tankers that are hanging out in the seas near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Coast Guard, doing its job by being responsible for maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship in American ports and waterways, is coordinating with the relevant sectors in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
— USCG Los Angeles (@USCGLosAngeles) April 24, 2020
“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,” Commander Marshal Newberry said in a statement. “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.”
— Ross Gerber (@GerberKawasaki) April 25, 2020
The tankers are carrying enough crude oil to meet the needs of 20% of the world’s oil consumption, yet they have nowhere to go. This is due to demand for the fuel collapsing. These tankers are pretty much floating storage units for barrels of oil. The LA Times reports that there are almost three dozen ships — which means that more have come after the Coast Guard put out its press release. The LA Times also notes that this is the highest volume of crude to ever float off the West Coast at one time — more than 20 million barrels of crude oil. And these tankers have been floating steadily for 8 days.
We are essentially drowning in oil. With everything being shut down and people staying home, there are fewer people buying gas (only essential personnel). Oil refineries have shut down temporarily. Here in Baton Rouge, ExxonMobil reopened to start producing hand sanitizer for first responders. Drums normally used for oil are now being filled with isopropyl alcohol and Exxon will be donating a batch of 160,000 gallons of sanitizer. This is enough to fill 5 million bottles.
This is one reason why there are oil tankers floating off our coasts with nowhere to put their oil.
Our focus has shifted from producing oil to saving lives.
— Jewelry by Johnna (@JewelsByJohnna) April 25, 2020
Healthcare workers and first responders here in Louisiana as well as Texas, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico will receive the medical-grade hand sanitizer being produced at two of our chemical plants. The first batches of 5-gallon pails and quart bottles just went out on Friday. ExxonMobil plans to ramp up productions to 20,000 gallons a week — it’s already bottling 15,000 gallons.
This means that for the first time ever, our focus isn’t on oil or profits — it’s on saving lives. And by “our,” I mean the entire world — not just America. This coronavirus is teaching a very painful lesson, but if we were to actually take the time to understand it, we could come out better from it.
The painful part is all of the lives lost to it, all of the routines interrupted in difficult ways, and new ways being forced upon us. Stay home or catch it and possibly die — or pass it on to a loved one who may die. These options are harsh. One silver lining is the earth is healing somewhat from many years of destructive human activity. Perhaps this pandemic is the breaking point that will force those in power with eyes filled with dollar signs to wake up from their greed-induced slumber. Your greed is hurting us and our planet, and it’s time for change.
Featured image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard, from video by Petty Officer Third Class Aidan Cooney (public domain). The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.