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I worked at an investment bank for a while in a commodities department that dealt with physical commodities. Using those websites and Solarc/Openlink RightAngle [1] we could actually find one of our containers full of oil delivering into Singapore. Kind of cool.

[1] http://www.olf.com/software/products/RightAngle.html

If you ever had a Bloomberg, we let you map all the worldwide shipping traffic in realtime and dive into ships/cargo in the BMAP function. Almost exclusively used by commodities desks like the one you were probably at :)

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