The California Oil Spill Likely to Add to the Supply Chain Difficulties

Posted by Land Link Traffic Systems on Oct 6, 2021 5:09:27 AM

Officials investigating one of California’s largest oil spills are looking into whether a ship’s anchor may have struck a pipeline on the ocean floor, causing a major leak of crude into coastal waters and fouling beaches, authorities said Monday.

The head of the company that operates the pipeline said company divers were inspecting the area of the suspected leak, and he expected to have a much better idea what caused the damage quickly.

An anchor striking the pipeline is “one of the distinct possibilities” behind the leak, Amplify Energy CEO Martyn Willsher told a news conference. He said divers have examined more than 8,000 feet of pipe and were focusing on “one area of significant interest.”

Cargo ships entering the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach routinely pass through the area, Coast Guard officials said.

“We’re looking into if it could have been an anchor from a ship, but that’s in the assessment phase right now,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jeannie Shaye said.

Dozens of Ships Anchored of the California Coast

A natural environmental catastrophe is the last thing the California ports need right now. Together, LA and Long Beach are the main seaborne gateway to the US, particularly for imports from China. And on Saturday a record 73 ships were stuck outside the port, almost twice as many as at the same time in August.

Some cargo ships have been diverted because of the backlog, which is preventing thousands of containers from being unloaded. But nearby ports like Oakland do not have the capacity to deal with the volume of trade. At the Port of LA alone, the amount of cargo handled is up 30% this year so far, compared with the whole of 2020.

Santa May Have Trouble Delivering This Year

The US Toy Association, which represents 950 toy firms with a US presence, has warned the crisis in California could affect many of its members going into the all-important holiday season.

The Californian ports have now agreed to expand the hours during which trucks can pick up and return containers to try to ease the backlog.  They are also working with the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which was set up in June to try to alleviate bottlenecks.

Other ports such as Savannah, Georgia have also seen record shipping congestion, while the nation's second busiest entry point - New York - said it faced transit issues outside the port.  Currently congestion is related to cargo moving from the port, such as trucks and freight rail, due to record-high cargo volume.

Local Wildlife and Environment Likely to be Seriously Impacted

We would be remiss to not consider the impact of this oil spill on the environment and local wildlife. Though this spill will have a temporary affect upon an already stressed supply chain the affect on the local landscape will likely last for years. Best estimates are that 137,000 to 150,000 gallons of crude oil leaked. Clean up specialists have retrieved less than 2000 gallons using boom barriers. Oil floats when leaked but not for long. The only practical way to retrieve the oil is from the surface. The remainder will coat the ocean floor and shorelines for years gravely injuring wildlife and the environment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a state of emergency, hopes to phase out drilling by 2045.

“California continues to lead the nation in phasing out fossil fuels and combating the climate crisis," Newsom said. "This incident serves as a reminder of the enormous cost fossil fuels have on our communities and the environment.”

The international supply chain is beset by natural and man-made challenges on many fronts. Land Link Traffic Systems can help you navigate these issues. Contact us today for a supply chain consultation.  

Stay Safe Everyone.

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Michael Gaughan
Technology Officer
Land Link Traffic Systems

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