EIA seeks comment on weekly gas storage report

The EIA said July 11 it wants the public to offer comments by Aug. 12 on ways it can improve a new weekly US natural gas storage report that is a key benchmark for energy marketers.

By OGJ editors

WASHINGTON, DC, July 12 -- The Energy Information Administration said July 11 it wants the public to offer comments by Aug. 12 on ways it can improve a new weekly US natural gas storage report that is a key benchmark for energy marketers.

EIA's gas report provides weekly estimates of working gas volumes held in underground storage facilities across the country. Industry is required to give the agency raw data that EIA uses to prepare analytical reports detailing the relationships among demand, inventory levels, and other supply. The agency started the reports this spring, replacing a voluntary American Gas Association survey that began in 1994 and was discontinued in spring 2002 (OGJ, Mar. 25, 2002 p. 35).

EIA is seeking to fine-tune the report by setting policy for when revisions to the report occur because of updated respondent information. EIA is seeking comments on how it should handle anticipated and unexpected revisions to data in order to avoid unnecessary market volatility.

The agency is proposing that volume revisions below a specified threshold will be released according to the established official schedule; those caused by larger volume changes will trigger a release outside the official schedule. Special topics for public comment include: the appropriateness of the overall plan, volume thresholds that trigger a special report, timing of unscheduled releases, and the kind of information EIA should provide to respondents when a scheduled revision is being prepared.

The agency says it is considering making scheduled revisions included in the next regular weekly report when the cumulative effect of all reported changes is at least 7 bcf at either a regional or national level; a special report would be issued if there were verified changes of at least 35 bcf.

Unscheduled changes
EIA said it picked the 35 bcf threshold because that would have been the "approximate standard error of the national estimate" if EIA has been performing the surveys in March 2001, when national inventories were at a record low 742 bcf.

These larger-scale revisions would be posted to the EIA web site.

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