Newsom’s energy regulations have oil tankers emitting more than twice what all of California’s vehicle fleet do

Newsom’s energy regulations have oil tankers emitting more than twice what all of California’s vehicle fleet do


By Ronald Stein


California’s crude oil demands have been increasing year over year, since 1995, except for pandemic years.  Maritime transportation is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.  Yet, Governor Newsom continually decreases in-state oil production, so California and the nation can be further dependent on imports via maritime transportation from foreign countries for the State’s crude oil energy demands.


In international waters, the maritime fleet fuel consumption and emissions remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system. The fuel used in ships is waste oil, what is left over after the crude oil refining process. It is the same as asphalt and is so thick that when cold it can be walked upon.


There are over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by over a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.


The low-grade bunker fuel used by the world’s merchant ships is the cheapest and most polluting fuel available. The maritime fuel is consumed not by the gallons, but by tons per hour and contains up to 2,000 times the amount of sulfur compared to diesel fuel used in automobiles.


As a result of continuously decreasing in-state oil production, California has increased imported crude oil from foreign countries from 5 percent in 1992 to 58 percent today of total consumption.


In 2018, California imported a whopping 364,367,000 barrels of crude oil from foreign countries. Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC’s) can transport 2 million barrels of crude oil.


  • It would require about 175 such VLCC oil tankers traversing the oceans to import 350 million barrels to California.
  • Those large VLCC’s burn 100 metric tons of fuel/hour, or 261 gallons per hour, which emits about 22 pounds of CO2 per gallon.
  • A 60-day round trip VLCC voyage to and from Saudi Arabia is 1,440 hours, thus one round trip voyage emits 8,268,480 (261*22*1440) pounds of CO2.
  • For the 175 VLCC’s needed to import 350 million barrels of crude oil, the total annual oil tankers emissions would be 1,446,984,000 pounds, or more than 720 million metric tons of CO2 to meet California’s needs for foreign crude oil.
  • California’s statewide 2017 GHG emissions were more than 350 million metric tons.
  • Due to Newsom’s ever-increasing pressure to reduce in-state oil productions, crude oil import demands from foreign suppliers are on the rise. We can easily see that more than 175 – 2 million barrels of crude oil via VLCC oil tankers that are required to bring in a whopping 364,367,000 barrels of crude oil from foreign countries. Those VLCC’s, emit more than double the emissions as the entire Californian transportation sector, of annual GHG emissions.


Using smaller capacity oil tankers would require more tankers and generate even greater emissions.


Governor Newsom continues to “leak” emissions and air quality responsibilities to developing countries halfway around the world, the same countries that have virtually non-existent environmental regulations nor labor controls to protect the local workers in those developing countries.


Regarding California’s Energy Crisis, blame Sacramento, Not Moscow. California’s politicians and policy makers eagerly emulated Europe’s energy policies for years. Like Europe, California overinvested in breezes and sunshine for electricity, underinvested in crude oil, prematurely shuttered its baseload power plants, and relied overwhelmingly on imported crude oil from foreign countries, and electricity imports from neighboring states. Now, as Europe is ensnared in Vladimir Putin’s energy trap, Californians watch as the state’s energy prices head toward the stratosphere.


A Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) report, commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API), reinforces how the natural gas and oil industry—in California in particular—is critical to economic revitalization and opportunities for job creation. According to the findings, in 2019, the industry directly and indirectly:


  • Supported 1,059,000 total jobs (164,600 direct and 894,400 indirect) or 4.3 percent of California’s total employment.
  • Generated an additional 5.4 jobs elsewhere in California’s economy for each direct job in the state’s natural gas and oil industry.
  • Provided $94.4 billion in labor income ($24.2 billion direct and $70.2 billion indirect) to California, 5.1 percent of the state’s total.
  • Contributed $199.3 billion to California’s gross domestic product ($85.3 billion direct and $114 billion indirect), 6.4 percent of the state’s total.


Rather than producing oil in the most environmentally controlled location in the world, in California, the Governor remains oblivious to the negative impact to the world’s emissions from oil tankers, and the negative impacts to the health of the 8 billion on this planet that result from importing oil via polluting oil tankers. In addition, Newsom withholds the many of the economic benefits identified by PwC that would be available to Californians.


There is some good news developing out of that Maritime GHG emissions dark tunnel, as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has implemented new regulations to reduce CO2 emissions 50 percent by 2050 from 2008 levels. But the International Chamber of Shipping stated that by 2050 two-thirds of ALL ships will still be burning the same fuel they do today!!


To help the IMO achieve their emission reduction goals, I found a company, Steele Environmental, that is doing something about the problem today! Founded by Larry Parsons, this company’s ADF fuel catalyst is a drop in, market ready, scalable solution for the global shipping industry that lowers not only CO2 emissions but NO2 and black carbon at the same time! It pays for itself in fuel savings!


The Steele Environmental ADF fuel catalyst, when implemented, will help make the maritime fuels green and alleviate the GHG emissions that Newsom is inflicting upon the world’s atmosphere. Pollution does NOT stop at our borders! Stop polluting the oceans thinking California air is clean. We need to support companies like Steele Environmental that are doing something to address the GHG emissions of the maritime fleet instead of government trying to force restrictions on fossil fuel use.


California’s Governor Newsom insists on continuous efforts to “leak” emissions and air quality responsibilities to developing countries halfway around the world for California’s crude oil demands. This “leakage” has increased the use of maritime transportation that has resulted in California being a huge contributor to worldwide GHG emissions! I hope California’s Governor Newsom can sleep peacefully!


Ronald Stein
Ron Stein is an engineer who, drawing upon 25 years of project management and business development experience, launched PTS Advance in 1995. He is an author, engineer, and energy expert who writes frequently on issues of energy and economics.