EIA solicits comments on proposed monthly LNG storage report

By OGJ editors
WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 18 -- The US Energy Information Administration Tuesday proposed the inception of a new monthly LNG storage report. Comments are due to the agency Nov. 17.

EIA's action follows an announcement made by US Department of Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham at an emergency National Petroleum Council meeting in late June. There, Abraham said EIA planned to revamp natural gas data collection; a top priority is to formally track LNG storage (OGJ, July 14, 2003, p. 30).

DOE officials said the LNG storage report is part of a coordinated policy initiative to better understand US natural gas supply-demand balance and to achieve better market efficiency. In recent weeks DOE has launched a public information campaign with state regulators on LNG safety, and is helping organize an LNG storage technology consortium at Pennsylvania Sate University (OGJ Online, Sept. 15, 2003).

EIA said eventually it might turn the LNG report into a weekly, rather than monthly, survey depending on market response.

But whether it is monthly or weekly, the agency said collecting this data is "essential to the mission of the DOE and EIA in particular" because of the increasing role of LNG storage as a source of natural gas supply.

"Much like the existing EIA underground natural gas storage survey, the new LNG survey is expected to be widely used by industry analysts and federal and state agencies to monitor gas markets," EIA said in a Sept. 16 Federal Register notice.

EIA began weekly natural gas storage reports in spring 2002, following an American Gas Association decision to stop its own popular voluntary report because it drained staff time (OGJ Online, Nov. 14, 2001).

Respondents
Survey respondents for EIA's newest report would include "all operators of facilities that store LNG for baseload, seasonal, and peak demand delivery in the US, or for delivery to the US customers for these purposes."

EIA estimates there are 100 LNG storage facilities in the US that will need to submit detailed data to the agency once the rule is finalized, possibly by yearend.

This includes operators with LNG inventories such as distribution companies, pipeline companies, liquefaction facilities, LNG wholesalers (excluding retailers who sell LNG exclusively for ultimate vehicular fuel use), and marine terminals providing peaking storage services. Proposed survey coverage does not include LNG inventories held by any industrial, residential, commercial, or power generation operations for ultimate consumption, EIA said.

Raw survey information given to EIA by individual companies will be treated as confidential and will not be publicly released, the agency said. But EIA said it would retain the right to share the data with other DOE agencies, any committee of Congress, the General Accounting Office, and other federal agencies authorized by law to receive the information. EIA also could be required to turn over data as part of a court order.

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