Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Price of Oil

So, I have this quilty little please I found on the Internet.  It is a site called Marine Traffic.  I don't know how I stumbled onto it a few weeks ago, but ever since, I have been checking it out about once a day.

Much like sites such as Geocaching and Where's George, it shows you a world that you don't think about, but that has a profound effect on your life whether you know it or not.  Geocaching shows the power of GPS technology on your daily life and Where's George shows exactly where your money goes, literally.

The Marine Traffic website tracks all of the shipping on the planet.  Mind you, not the military kind, but everything else.  Tankers, Yachts, Tugs, Cruise Ships, Cargo, you name it.  It shows where the ship is, its track, its last port of call and information about the ship.

The site also allows you to set up your own 'Fleet' of 5 ships to track.  When one of your tracked ships gets underway, or docks at a port, it lets you know via e-mail.  Sort of makes you feel like Aristole Onasis.

Since how our flat screen televisions or Mercedes Benz get to us is seldom our concern, it is interesting to see just how many of these super cargo carriers are plying the Seven Seas to get us all those wonderful consumer goods.  As I scrolled across the oceans looking at various marine traffic, I stumbled across the Persian Gulf.

The graphic at the top of this blog shows 'only' the tankers in and around the Straits of Hormuz.  The tanker traffic here is heavy to say the least.  What I found even more interesting was the 'holding' area near the city of Fajairah (below) off the coast of United Arab Emirates, just south of the entrance to the straits.  Here is where ships (all tankers again) wait their turn to head into the Straits to load up with that sweet crude bound for China or India or the Americas.

All of this infrastructure to supply an energy hungry world with cheap plastic, petro-chemicals and fuel that continues to pollute the planet.  You can bet that the major petro-states won't let this waterway become blocked or shut down for any reason.  It would mean severing the life line for all their economies.