Murkowski to EIA: prioritize oil storage data as early warning system for shut-in production

Published on April 02, 2020 by Chris Galford

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In a letter to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) this week, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voiced concerns over the nation’s energy system resilience and pressed for the publication of timely data on oil storage capacity as a warning indicator.

Policymakers need up to date data to be able to respond appropriately to threats, she noted, and right now, the senator sees an America beset by two such threats: the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic oil war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. This has left crude oil majorly oversupplied, even as consumer demand collapses.

“This situation cannot persist indefinitely: either supply will decrease, as costs overwhelm producers, or demand will increase, due to the effects of economic stimulus and ultimate recovery from the pandemic,” Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said. “The threat of “shutting in” oil wells is most acute for the small- and medium-sized companies that have fueled American energy dominance over the past decade.”

Her words, directed specifically to EIA Administrator Linda Capuano, is the latest in a series of letters Murkowski has been a part of in an effort to get a handle on the tumultuous situation. As to the specific data being requested, Murkowski said that, based on conversations with energy experts, such petroleum storage data would provide a gauge for the aforementioned shut-in production.

“Producers will continue to produce, filling up all kinds of tanks and tankers, until capacity is reached,” Murkowski wrote. “Available petroleum storage can serve as a gauge of the potential for shut-in production, providing us some measure of both imminence and severity.”