Energy data chief wants ‘punchier’ agency

Sieminski, the former chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank, laid out his goals for the agency at a Monday roundtable with reporters hosted by Platts, which is the energy information arm of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

EIA produces a suite of closely watched data and analyses on energy consumption, supplies and demand levels, and trends that are used by policymakers, Wall Street traders and others.

Sieminski wants to make EIA, which has about 370 employees and a current annual budget of $105 million, “at the heart of the national conversation on energy.”

But he also noted challenges facing the agency, including budget pressures, and upcoming retirements, which also is a problem for the energy industry more broadly.

“One of the things that I am going to be spending a lot of time on is trying to replace people as they retire and making sure we get the right mix of people,” he said at the Platts Energy Podium.

EIA’s recent products include the report that formed the basis for the White House determination that global oil markets can accommodate expanded sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports. Sieminski reviewed those findings Monday.

He noted the market is “looser” than it was at the end of April.

He said inventory levels are higher, citing continued increases in U.S. oil production, Libyan production levels that are almost back to where they were before the country’s revolution last year and increases in production from Saudi Arabia.

These factors offset supply outages in the Sudan, Yemen and Syria, as well as maintenance issues at oilfields in Canada and the North Sea, he said.

But that doesn’t mean storm clouds won’t appear. He noted that spare oil production capacity remains below historic averages.

“Despite the looseness in the overall picture in global markets, the relatively low level of spare capacity suggests that disruptions of one type or another could still create upward pressure in the oil markets,” he said.