One week ago, we showed the latest MarineTraffic update of the unprecedented congestion of crude oil tankers located off the coast of Singapore, together with an extended analysis of what is causing this and what are the implications.
Today, we’ll spare readers the ongoing analysis – which hasn’t changed – and instead present the following dramatic satellite images just released from Reuters, showing “huge traffic jams of tankers which have formed around the world with some 200 million barrels of oil either waiting to be loaded or delivered as ports struggle to cope with record volumes in perhaps the most visible sign of the global oil glut.”
Almost all of the over 660 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), the largest tankers in use to transport seaborne oil, are used to ship crude between the Middle East and Asia’s consumption hubs around India and the Far East. The map above shows all of these super tankers in operation on April 11.
Waiting in line: Each orange symbol below represents a parked large crude tanker. Ships in transit are not shown.
SINGAPORE AND SOUTHERN MALAYSIA
Almost all tankers going to the Far East pass through Singapore, the world’s petrol station for tankers (bunker fuels) and also a global refinery and ship maintenance hub. In a reminder that the oil glut is still far from over, there are now dozens of large tankers full of unsold crude anchored offshore. New vessels are even hired as floating storage as excess supply needs storage and facilities operate at or near capacity.
A broader view of congestion.
Here’s another look at Singapore. This time showing moving and stationary vessels of all types. Tankers here have to jostle for space in congested waters around the port
How busy can it get?
To see just how congested some shipping lanes can become, look no further than the world’s busiest port, Shanghai. Hundreds of bulk carriers form highways up and down the Yangtze River to dock at various locations.