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JUNE 2, 2008

EIA Strengthens Process for Public Release of Weekly Petroleum and
Natural Gas Data

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has verified that petroleum data in the Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR) for the week ending May 23, scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time on May 29, 2008, was available and accessed on the public EIA website prior to its scheduled release time due to a malfunction in the system used to load the data while keeping it from public release prior to the scheduled release time.

EIA has determined that changes need to be made to its systems and procedures to avoid a recurrence. Some of these changes require implementation and testing, some of which will not be possible before the next scheduled release on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Consequently, EIA will be changing its release procedures for the next several weeks to allow time for implementation and testing of system changes. The procedures will also apply to the release of natural gas storage data in the Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR) on Thursday morning.

Until further notice, EIA will delay the weekly Wednesday release of the WPSR and the Thursday release of the WNGSR for 5 minutes until 10:35 a.m. Eastern time. The added time is to accommodate the temporary process changes designed to assure that the data remain physically inaccessible until the release process begins. As soon as permanent system changes to the release process can be fully implemented and tested, EIA will resume the 10:30 a.m. Eastern release time, except in certain cases described below.

In addition, starting immediately, EIA will make the following additional changes to its normal release process:

  • On those days when the release date for the WPSR is delayed because of a Federal holiday and consequently coincides with release of natural gas storage data, EIA will release the WNGSR at the normal time, and the WPSR later, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time. (A schedule of these dates for 2008 is available at http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/fwd/wpsrsch.html)
  • EIA will block robots that are accessing the website in any way that EIA considers excessive or malicious, including robots that attempt to access or download survey information multiple times per second with resulting degradation of service to others. EIA also reserves the right to block robots that do not contain contact information that can be used to contact the owner. (See http://www.eia.doe.gov/retrieval.html for EIA’s Policy on Automated Retrieval Program (Robot) Activity.) Blocking may occur in real time.
  • Depending on the severity of the activity, EIA may also choose to report robot activity in accordance with its Security Policy, which states
    “Unauthorized attempts to defeat or circumvent security features, to use the system for other than intended purposes, to deny service to authorized users, to access, obtain, alter, damage, or destroy information, or otherwise to interfere with the system or its operation is prohibited. Evidence of such acts may be disclosed to law enforcement authorities and result in criminal prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-294), (18 U.S.C. 1030), or other applicable criminal laws.”
    (See http://www.eia.doe.gov/privacyweb.html for EIA’s Privacy Statement and Security Policy.)
  • Any further policy changes relating to robot activity will be posted on EIA’s website at http://www.eia.doe.gov/retrieval.html EIA will alert data users of these changes through its email list. EIA will also make an RSS feed available for that page.

EIA is committed to provide equal access to information on its website and to promptly release information according to established schedules.  The demand for virtually instantaneous access to the weekly WPSR and WNGSR has increased over time, presenting EIA with many challenges to maintain the fair and timely release of this data. It has become clear that EIA needs to completely review the process by which it releases this data.

To begin this review, EIA plans to open a dialogue to discuss the technical and process challenges facing EIA in this area with users interested in accessing this data, including the press, trading organizations, and other parties. EIA will issue a Federal Register notice to solicit this input. Following the exchange of information with stakeholders, EIA will develop a specific proposal for a comprehensive release process that is both fair and takes account of changing technologies. That proposal would then be posted in the Federal Register for comment. After considering comments, EIA would decide on and publicly announce its revised comprehensive release process before any changes are made.

The information described in this press release was prepared by the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. The information and the press release should be attributed to the Energy Information Administration and should not be construed as advocating or reflecting any policy position of the Department of Energy or any other organization.

EIA Press Contact: National Energy Information Center, 202/586-8800



National Energy Information Center
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