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EIA Proposes New Monthly LNG Survey Starting in 2007

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it plans to begin surveying liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage companies, including marine import terminals, on a monthly basis during the heating season (September-March) starting in 2007 in order to develop national and regional LNG level estimates.

The agency said in a Federal Register notice that it is taking comments through May 6 on the proposed LNG survey, on revisions to several of its other natural gas surveys and on a three-year extension of its natural gas data collection authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

EIA announced plans in 2003 to begin a survey of LNG storage operators but later shelved those plans because of a lack of public interest and a tight agency budget. At the time, the administration promised to monitor the LNG market and reconsider its survey when appropriate.

"LNG has an increasingly important role as a source of natural gas supply, especially during periods of peak demand," the agency said in its notice last Monday. "Therefore, EIA is proposing to conduct LNG storage surveys, subject to funds being provided in the FY2007 budget. If funding is made available, the survey would most likely not begin until calendar year 2007."

Unlike EIA's previous plans for a monthly survey throughout the year, the newly proposed survey would only be done on a monthly basis during the September-through-March period. Compared to EIA's prior survey plans, the new survey also lessens the reporting burden by requiring respondents to only report one monthly data item, the amount of LNG in storage as of the report date, rather than several data items. In addition, EIA plans to conduct the survey over the phone to "increase the timeliness of product dissemination and reduce respondent burden."

In addition to the monthly LNG survey, there will be an annual survey form that the LNG storage operators will receive, requiring facility details such as name, location, design capacity, liquefaction capacity, vaporization capacity, loading and unloading ability, number of bays, etc. All operators that store LNG for baseload, seasonal and peak demand delivery in the United States will be required to complete the mandatory reporting form.

Respondents will include operators, such as local distribution companies, pipeline companies, liquefaction facilities, LNG wholesalers and marine terminals providing peaking services, who have LNG inventories. The survey coverage will not include LNG inventories held for ultimate consumption by industrial, residential, commercial or power generation operators.

Respondents will be required to fill out the annual form (EIA-913) in September and whenever a new LNG facility begins operation, or a change in operators or capacity occurs.

For the monthly survey, EIA will contact the operators on the first Monday of the month or the first business day after the first Monday if Monday is a holiday.

EIA said it proposes that the monthly respondent data would be treated as sensitive, proprietary information while respondent data from the annual schedule would not be confidential.

The agency is seeking comments on whether such a survey has any practical utility, whether the reporting burden would be reduced if the data were collected in Btu (heat content) rather than on an Mcf basis (volumetric) and whether there should be a standard revision rule requiring data resubmissions for revisions greater than 4%.

EIA also has proposed minor changes to several other natural gas surveys. For more details, go to http://www.eia.doe.gov/.

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