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EIA to release new storage data

Inventories in many regions of the US show fuels stocks remain above the five-year average range for this time of year.

Stocks of crude oil, motor petrol, distillate fuel, and other petroleum products are currently ample, providing a buffer against disruptions such as refinery and pipeline outages, storms, and unexpected local demand fluctuations, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) states.

EIA collects inventory data at refineries, terminals, pipelines, and other facilities. During times when inventories are very high, EIA often receives questions regarding the amount of storage capacity available, but until this year, EIA had only collected storage capacity at refineries.

However, most petroleum product inventories are held at terminals, and terminals are where most seasonal and discretionary volumes reside.

As part of EIA's Energy and Financial Markets Initiative, EIA has begun collecting storage capacity on a semi-annual basis (March and September) for crude oil and products at the Petroleum Administration for Defense (PAD) District and sub-PAD District levels. In addition, EIA has also begun collecting data on crude oil storage capacity at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI oil futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Because the availability of storage capacity can affect near-term market expectations, the addition of storage capacity data is expected to make markets more transparent. It will also provide information that is useful for emergency planning and assessment of market disruptions from events such as hurricanes.

The new storage data will include above ground and underground storage and will be measured as both shell storage (the design capacity of the tank) and working storage (shell storage net of tank bottoms and the safe-fill level).

Product storage capacity can show seasonal shifts if product tanks are used for more than one type of product. EIA will assign capacity to a given product type by what product is in the tank at the report time (31 March or 30 September). Thus, a tank that is holding motor petrol on 31 March will be counted towards petrol capacity. However, if that tank has been switched to store distillate fuel by 30 September, it will be counted as distillate capacity in that report.

Information is also being collected to determine if reported capacity is being used by third parties, which provides an indication of how much capacity is available for lease to multiple parties versus that held by a single company for its own use.

The first collection of additional storage capacity data was initiated in June, but that data will not be published. As is typical with new data collections, EIA and respondents use the initial collections to familiarise respondents with new survey forms and smooth out reporting and submission issues that may arise.

The first storage capacity data will be published on the EIA website in November with September data (as of end-of-the-month).

Going forward, storage capacity will be published twice per year: in November (reflecting storage capacity as of 30 September) and in May (reflecting storage capacity as of 31 March).