An international effort to improve transparency of oil and gas markets advanced a step this month.
The International Energy Agency added to its April Oil Market Report discrete demand assessments for 14 countries based on data from the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI).
IEA is one of six international organizations that launched JODI in 2000 in response to concerns about rising volatility of oil markets and prices. The other groups are Asia Pacific Energy Cooperation (APEC), the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat), Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and United Nations Statistical Division.
JODI seeks monthly oil statistics from the 92 countries represented by those groups. The International Energy Forum Secretariat (IEFS) in Riyadh, which coordinates the work, opened the JODI database to public access in November 2005.
The data categories are production, closing stocks, stock changes, demand, refinery intake, and refinery output. The numbers cover crude oil, LPG, gasoline, kerosene, gas/diesel oil, heavy fuel, and total oil.
When JODI began, information like this wasn't routinely available on a monthly basis in all countries. Data quality was and remains anything but uniform.
IEFS applies a combination of training and persuasion to improve the product. It grades countries on reporting timeliness and data quality—and publishes the results.
Last December, JODI reported that for the first time more than 70 participating countries and economies were supplying monthly data, covering about 95% of world crude oil production in 2008 and 85% of global demand.
This month, acknowledging JODI's "tangible improvements," IEA began using numbers from the database to report demand for Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Philippines, Estonia, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen, Bulgaria, and Romania.
IEA's adoption of JODI demand numbers represents progress in the effort to improve statistical assessment of the far-flung, ever-changing, and economically crucial oil market.
And the progress itself is evidence of cooperation between producing and consuming countries.
The world needs more of that. It also needs JODI to expand its coverage to natural gas and—this will be the ultimate achievement—reserves, consistently defined.
(Online Apr. 17, 2009; author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)