Increase in Foreign Oil and Gas Imports Could Spell More Crowding at LA Ports: Officials

By Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin
November 3, 2021 Updated: November 4, 2021

A decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during its Nov. 4 meeting to increase foreign oil and gas imports may bring more oil tankers to the already overloaded ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, officials say.

“Clearly there will be a significant increase in tanker traffic at all ports—and even an additional handful of ships at the crowded SoCal ports will add to the huge backlog,” Tim Stewart, spokesman for the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, told The Epoch Times via email.

As of Tuesday, eight oil tankers were either floating off the Southern California ports, anchored or offloading crude at the terminals, according to Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, the agency that directs local maritime traffic.

“That’s a very normal population for waiting,” Louttit told The Epoch Times.

Six tankers arrived at the ports, he said, coming from Panama, Russia, New Orleans, the Pacific region, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia.

Of those, two were at berth in the terminals, one was at anchor in Long Beach, one was at anchor off Huntington Beach, and three tankers were “loitering,” or running their motors to stay afloat in the ocean nearby until they are assigned an anchor.

The area is overcrowded with cargo ships carrying a backlog of containers holding retail goods. Those ships are taking up anchor space usually assigned to the oil tankers. As a result, the oil tankers, and any future tankers that may arrive, would have to take a position farther down the coast near San Clemente or elsewhere, Louttit said.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspects a cargo ship waiting to offload its cargo at the ports was anchored off Huntington Beach when it caused a spill Oct. 2 of about 144,000 gallons of oil to wash ashore. The ship’s anchor is suspected of tearing a hole in an underground pipeline.

President Joe Biden continued to push major energy-producing countries and OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to boost production. OPEC denied Biden’s proposal Monday.

American gasoline is at a seven-year high of $3.72 a gallon Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate crude fell to $80.86 a barrel Wednesday, and Brent crude futures fell $2.73, to settle at $81.99 a barrel.

“The Administration is taking every step possible to ramp up imports from OPEC+ to offset the drop off in domestic production that they themselves have created through regulatory uncertainty with actions like a leasing moratorium and other aggressive regulatory actions on methane, royalties, and fees, etc.,” Stewart said.

“Combine that with their full-throated support of the rampant stakeholder activism which is seeking to limit availability of capital to industry on Wall Street and the Administration is creating market uncertainty which is now resulting in predictions $120 barrel oil.”

Steward added that the Biden Administration is trying to have it both ways by trying to meet climate goals by curtailing U.S. production and rely on imported energy from Russia.

In January, the U.S. imported 20,000 barrels from Russia every month, Steward said. By July, that number climbed to 7 million per month.

“At the same time, the Keystone Pipeline was cancelled, the leasing moratorium was put in place and the Democrats in Congress started waving around their new punitive tax and fee scheme on industry,” Steward said. “This has had a chilling effect on new investment in our domestic resources which is quickly backfilled by the global market—oil coming from OPEC+,” Steward said.