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EIA Seeks to Expand Energy Data-Gathering Wings

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is seeking "general comments" in support of its Energy and Financial Markets Initiative (EFMI), which is aimed at expanding the agency's data-gathering wings to better understand and analyze what drives energy prices and the overall market, including speculation and hedging.

"In recent years energy markets have developed in ways that were not anticipated in the original planning and evolution of EIA's information program. In addition to the factors [that] [EIA has historically tracked, such as production, consumption, inventories and spare capacity, moving forward, EIA is interested in assessing other market influences, such as speculation, hedging, investment, interest rates and exchange rates," the EIA said in its request for comments, which was published in the Federal Register last Wednesday.

In September EIA Administrator Richard Newell announced that he formed an EFMI analysis team to augment EIA's strength in fundamentals analysis and to focus on four main areas: collecting critical information on factors affecting energy prices; analyzing energy market behavior through in-depth studies; soliciting feedback from a broad range of experts on the interrelationship of energy and financial markets; and coordinating with other federal agencies that collect and analyze energy market information (see NGI, Sept. 14, 2009).

The EIA is now seeking comments and recommendations on gathering information on energy-related futures and options traded on exchanges; identifying behavior in the over-the-counter (OTC) market for physical delivery of energy commodities in spot and term markets; data on behavior in the OTC market for financially settled derivatives; or other financial market data, such as determining the appropriate level of aggregation (ranging from transaction-level data to highly aggregated data) and the appropriate data frequency.

The EIA said it also is seeking comments on "whether and to what extent it can obtain data from other sources," including:

The agency further is seeking comments on the timing and frequency of existing EIA energy data releases. In keeping with some customers' wishes, the EIA said it is considering "for energy information already being collected and disseminated, an acceleration or increased frequency of existing schedules."

Comments are due by the close of business on March 29. Comments can be e-mailed to karen.robinson@eia.doe.gov.

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