From the article:
NEW YORK - Supertankers that once raced around the world to satisfy an unquenchable thirst for oil are now parked offshore, fully loaded, anchors down, their crews killing time. In the United States, vast storage farms for oil are almost out of room.
The oil tanks that surround Cushing, Okla., in a sprawling network that holds 10 percent of the nation’s oil, have been swelling for months. Exactly how close they are to full is a closely guarded secret, but analysts who cover the industry say Cushing is approaching capacity.
There are other storage tanks in the country with plenty of extra room to take on oil, but Cushing is the delivery point for the oil traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange. So the closer Cushing gets to full, the lower the price of oil goes.
More than 30 tankers, each with the ability to move 2 million barrels of oil from port to port, now serve as little more than floating storage tanks. They are moored across the globe, from the Texas coast to the calm waters off Europe and Nigeria.
“It gets expensive to do this,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of oil and you’re stuck paying storage and insurance, and you can’t find a buyer, you may have to sell it at a discount just to get rid of it.”
On the other hand, as storage units on land have filled up, the companies that own the tankers have profited. Tanker companies charge an average of $75,000 a day, three times as much as last summer, to hold crude, said Douglas Mavrinac, an analyst with Jefferies & Co.