Oil tankers are caught in a traffic jam near the Iraqi port of Basra, causing delays in loading. According to Reuters, around 30 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) are sitting in the Persian Gulf, and the backlog could cost ship owners more than $75,000 per day. Some could be waiting for weeks to reach the port.
Check out this shocking satellite photo of the tanker traffic jam just off the coast of Iraq.
(Click to enlarge)
The culprit is high oil production in Iraq. The port at Basra is struggling to load up all the oil tankers fast enough, forcing some to sit and wait. Iraq exported about 3.26 million barrels per day (mb/d) in March from its southern coast, which is up from just 2.5 mb/d in 2010. Related: Advantage U.S. In The Global Petroleum Showdown?
And the line of tankers appears to be growing. The gridlock is forcing up the cost of renting an oil tanker. That, combined with the shrinking capacity of available storage in China is pushing up tanker rates in Asia as well. Shipping data shows that VLCC rates have doubled from $37,250 per day to $74,700 per day.
As of now, Reuters calculates that there are 27 VLCCs sitting in the Gulf near Basra, holding about 43 million barrels of oil, double the typical backlog. Some have been waiting for weeks. The current waiting time is 18 to 19 days, which is two to three times the normal wait of 5 to 10 days. Related: $120 Oil As Soon As 2018?
Reuters contacted a captain of one oil tanker, who said that he wasn’t sure when he would be able to load up at the port. "We've been given no details," he said, declining to be identified.
Meanwhile, onshore, Iraq is struggling with a bit of rising instability in the country’s south, which is far from the battlefields with ISIS and has been one of the few refuges of stability. However, militias have a growing presence there, raising concerns for the international oil companies operating in Basra.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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