IEA, industry meetings seek to improve reporting data

The International Energy Agency and oil industry officials plan a series of meetings designed to improve statistics gathering and reporting. IEA said the workshops complement an effort by it and five other international organizations to improve oil-market transparency with more accurate, timely, and complete data.


By a Staff Correspondent

PARIS, Apr. 18 -- The International Energy Agency and oil industry officials plan a series of meetings designed to improve statistics gathering and reporting.

IEA, which has been criticized for the accuracy of its data, said the workshops complement an effort by it and five other international organizations to improve oil-market transparency with more accurate, timely, and complete data.

Robert Priddle, IEA executive director, said, "Lack of reliable data leads to uncertainty in markets and uncertainty produces volatility, which is bad for producers and consumers alike."

He said, "In an imperfect world, there will always be a need for second-hand and anecdotal evidence. But many of the problems that plague statistics gathering and compilation can be reduced through international cooperation and the political commitment of governments to transparency."

The other five sponsors are the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre, the European Union's Eurostat, the Latin American Energy Organization, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the United Nations Statistics Division.

The initiative began when oil analysts discussed improving market data last July during a meeting in Madrid, promoted by the US Department of Energy.

Representatives of the six organizations met in Paris in December and identified technical problems -- involving methodology, definitions, and units of account -- on they could act directly. They determined that member countries would have to act on other issues, such as late or incomplete submissions.

At a Bangkok meeting Apr. 2-3, representatives of the six groups and 20 producing and consuming countries discussed the causes for lack of transparency in oil markets and agreed on steps to extend and improve statistical coverage. They stressed the need for countries, organizations, and the oil industry to provide more resources for statistical work.

The Bangkok meeting produced plans for a 6-month exercise involving countries and international organizations. Participants will meet in Saudi Arabia before the end of the year to assess the results and plan further actions.

During the 6 months, IEA and oil industry officials will hold roundtables to consider factors that can complicate the collection of accurate data. They include smuggling, conversion factors, unreported producer and commercial stocks, line fill and minimum operating stocks for new facilities, and "apparent demand" in China and the former Soviet Union.

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