Caves, Cars, & Clogged Pipelines - Oil Traders Turn To "Oddball Storage Locations" As Demand Hits 30-Year Lows

As we detailed earlier, global floating storage is now accelerating at an “unprecedented pace” currently amounting to almost 250 million barrels, up from common estimates of 160 million bbl only last week, with at least one in 10 supertankers around the world is serving as a floating oil storage facility...

...and the amount of oil being forced into storage is rising exponentially as production continues amid cataclysmic collapse in demand...

And as these more conventional storage facilities fill, Reuters reports that anxious oil traders are turning to the unconventional in railcars, caverns and pipelines to store fuel.

While it is hard to gauge the world’s total oil storage capacity, Reuters notes that signs that the limit is being reached are increasingly obvious. Rising sea storage is one indicator, as it is more expensive than storing onshore and can be technically complex.

The key Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub will effectively be full by May, traders said, and so Oil producers, refiners and traders are also turning to more unusual tactics, such as storing crude and fuel in railcars in northeastern United States or in unused pipelines.

Europe’s northwestern refining and storage hub still has space to fill but industry experts say most of the remaining capacity has already been booked.

“We are now working on the most oddball storage locations, really tough locations where there are operational constraints,” said Krien van Beek, a broker at ODIN - RVB Tank Storage Solutions in Rotterdam.

Salt caverns in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries were either full or fully booked.

“The big tanks where you pull a ship in and empty the whole thing, that’s all gone. What you have is pots and pans,” van Beek said.

CNBC's Brian Sullivan, a former commodities trader, summed up the energy complex dilemma succinctly...

"We're paying to take oil out of the ground... we're paying to move it... and now we're paying to put it back into ground."

All of which is destroying the economics of the entire process.