The U.S. government faces shortcomings in producing its oil-inventory data, according to internal Department of Energy documents, casting doubt on figures that affect the production and prices of the world's most important industrial commodity.
The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, expose several errors in the Energy Information Agency's weekly oil report, including one in September that was large enough to cause a jump in oil prices, and a litany of problems with its data collection, including the use of ancient technology and out-of-date methodology, that make it nearly impossible for staff to detect errors. A weak security system also leaves the data open to being hacked or leaked, the documents show...
The anatomy of one change in a single week:
- Expected oil inventory change week of 9/11: -2.5 million barrels (from Dow Jones survey)
- Reported change: -4.7 million barrels
- Cushing "correction": -1.7 million barrels
- So, without the correction in Cushing, Okla., the nation's most important commercial-storage facility, oil inventories would have dropped nationwide by only three million barrels, relatively close to analysts' expectations.
- Oil prices rose 2.2%