The world is swimming in oil

Oil tankers are anchored off the Dutch coast, unable to deliver their cargo to the port of Rotterdam because its oil facilities are filled to capacity, but also because it is more profitable.

Last Friday, a total of eight supertankers – very large crude carriers (VLCC) – had anchored off the Dutch coast, half of them fully loaded. Each of them can carry up to 2 million barrels of crude oil, enough to fill up 6 million small cars. These supertankers could reach the port of Rotterdam, Europe’s biggest oil refining and trade centre, in less than an hour. But they don’t. There just isn’t enough room, says Jeroen Kortsmit, commercial manager at Royal Dirkzwager, a maritime advisory company. “The port of Rotterdam is filled to capacity.” Rotterdam is being flooded with crude oil, which has become superfluous because of the economic slowdown. The port can normally hold up to 12.8 million cubic metres of crude oil. That’s 80 million barrels, or enough to supply all 27 member states of the European Union for five days. Now the Rotterdam port is full and companies active in oil shortage, like Vopak, Oiltanking and Eurotank, are doing good business these days.

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