The Power Sources for Energy

There are several key sources I use for acquiring and interpreting energy data. For the most recent U.S. energy data, I rely on the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical and research arm of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). I regularly read This Week in Petroleum, Short and Long Term Energy Outlooks, Annual Energy Outlooks, and numerous weekly reports on inventories, pricing, refinery utilization, etc.

One of the most important weekly reports is the Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR). The report covers activity in the domestic petroleum and finished product markets from the previous week, including refinery utilization, oil imports, crude oil and finished product production, crude oil and product pricing, and inventories. This report can quickly impact the markets, particularly if there is a large, unexpected crude oil inventory change.

A newer product from the EIA is the Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). This report provides detailed drilling information for the nation’s seven most important oil and gas production regions, which are the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian, and Utica:

The DPR is important for tracking developing trends in U.S. oil and natural gas production. For instance, in an EIA “Today in Energy” brief commenting on the latest report, the EIA noted that natural gas production is expected to decline during September for the first time in all major U.S. shale regions because “production from new wells is not large enough to offset production declines from existing, legacy wells.” The DPR is usually the first place to report this sort of information.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), representing developed energy-importing countries, provides data similar to the EIA except it does so for the entire globe. However, there are several important differences. Unlike EIA reports, some of the IEA’s more useful publications are only available for purchase. The IEA also often takes an activist role in attempting to influence the world energy markets (e.g., calling on OPEC to maintain or increase oil supplies). But the most important contribution of the IEA for me is its global oil production and consumption forecasts. These often anticipate the supply/demand imbalances that will ultimately affect oil prices.

The most comprehensive energy statistics can be found in the annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy (BPSR). The BPSR is invaluable for understanding long-term trends and shifts in the energy sector. This report covers global, regional, and often country-specific energy production and consumption data. The report also covers carbon dioxide emissions for specific countries and for the world as a whole.

Here are a few examples of data I can locate in the BPSR:

  • How much of the world’s oil is produced by OPEC
  • The increase in U.S. natural gas production over the past decade
  • The world’s largest consumer of solar power
  • Global nuclear power trends

For detailed information on the world’s renewable energy markets, I rely on (and in fact contribute to) the Renewables Global Status Report (GSR). The GSR provides a detailed look at all of the world’s renewable energy sectors, including trends on spending in the sector. While I think the depth and breadth of renewable energy data in this report is the best free source of information out there, the one criticism I would have of the GSR is that it is written from a pro-renewables viewpoint, and therefore may not always be as objective as it should be.

All of the preceding data helps with my projections of energy trends, but when drilling down into particular company data I rely on S&P Capital IQ. This is a subscription-only service, and would be overkill for casual investors. But the service provides data on 99% of the world’s publicly traded companies, as well as detailed fundamental data on over 700,000 private companies and summary profiles on over 3.3 million companies. If I need to know the cost of production for all of the world’s oil companies, this is where I go to get it. This is also the basis of the proprietary stock screen I have developed, which is tailored to specific metrics of the energy industry.  

Access to timely and reliable information is obviously a key part of making sound investment decisions. While it may not have protected investors from the steep declines across the energy sector over the last year, over the long term access to good information will give you an edge.

(Follow Robert Rapier on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.)


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