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New Global Oil Data Reports to Start

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - New monthly oil data intended to ease oil price volatility with better transparency from countries such as China and Saudi Arabia are to be released beginning Saturday.

The International Energy Forum, underwritten by Saudi Arabia, said Friday that the Joint Oil Database Initiative it administers will be made public on or around the 15th of every month, after a delay of more than two years.

It differs from existing published data by attempting to secure direct contributions from countries not in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development.

The goal of the project is to publish numbers no older than a month.

The International Energy Agency, the energy security watchdog for the OECD, is the leading publisher of worldwide energy data. Its statistics from OECD members are generally seen as reliable.

In a statement, IEF Secretary General Arne Walther conceded the statistics remained incomplete: "The opening of the JODI database to the public is not the final goal of this initiative."

He added: "This decision was taken with the full knowledge that the database is still work in progress and though not perfect for many countries, timeliness, coverage and reliability are already at reasonable levels for the top 30 producers and consumers."

At a press conference, officials said some data were two to three months old.

The new data cover oil and products output, demand, and stockpiles, and will feature crude, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, kerosene, diesel, fuel oil and total oil.

There are 93 participating countries, but the emphasis is on securing quality data from the top 30 producing and consuming countries, including China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia.

Ibrahim al-Muhanna, an adviser to the Saudi oil ministry, said: "If you're looking for flashy information, you won't find it. It's more settled, more refined. It's not here to serve oil traders."

The value of the Forum in collating the information, supplied by the seven statistics units from bodies such as the E.U., the OECD and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is that "we want the IEF to be like a doctor to diagnose the problems," al-Muhanna added.

Walther said: "Before, you had a bipolar energy world. Today, you have a multipolar one. The center of gravity is going east."

The leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations have pinned their hopes on a softening of volatile oil prices from better-quality data.

The IEF, anxious not to be seen criticizing contributing nations too harshly, uses a rating system of smiley, indifferent and frowning faces to track the timeliness and completeness of countries' data submissions.

China, which pledged to submit complete and current data to the IEF by last March, appears to have marginally improved the timeliness of its data since June, according to the system.

Database Web site: www.jodidb.org/

Editorial Notes: See also Oil ministers tackle problem of missing barrels for less in the Financial Times.

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