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Oil Tankers Surround California With Nowhere to Unload

  • Total of 20 million barrels of oil floats off U.S. West Coast
  • Tankers float off coast as fuel demand plummets amid virus
A tanker sits beyond an oil rig in Huntington Beach, California, on April 20.

A tanker sits beyond an oil rig in Huntington Beach, California, on April 20.

Photographer: Michael Heiman/Getty Images North America
Updated on

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

Almost three dozen ships -- scattered in waters from Long Beach to the San Francisco Bay -- are mostly acting as floating storage for oil that’s going unused as the coronavirus pandemic shutters businesses and takes drivers off the road. Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s refinery in Martinez, California, has been idled and others, including Chevron Corp.’s El Segundo refinery, have curtailed crude processing as the state orders residents to stay at home.