News | September 5, 2013

Machine-Readable Petroleum, Natural Gas Data Available To Software Developers

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) now offers petroleum and natural gas time-series data in machine-readable format. Software developers working in government and research have easy access to the data through the EIA’s application programming interface (API). The API allows computers to read data — compared to the former method of releasing the public information through PDF reports. Establishing and maintaining the API is a reflection of EIA's commitment to increasing the accessibility of its data, which is an objective of the new federal Open Data Policy.

On August 26, the EIA added 115,052 petroleum series and 11,989 natural gas series to the API. The series summarize production, consumption, inventories, prices, imports, exports, and sales.  This data joins 408,000 electricity and 30,000 State Energy Data System (SEDS) series that were previously available. EIA plans to add coal and the Annual Energy Outlook data sets in the near future.

"Expanding EIA's API to include information on petroleum and natural gas production, consumption, and inventory trends brings us one step closer to the vision of making all of EIA's data time series available through their powerful data access tools," says Gina Pearson, EIA assistant administrator for communications.

Mark Elbert, EIA’s director of the office of web management, says the data has value to developers creating apps, websites, or value-added services. The API is offered as a free public service, but registration and compliance with a terms-of-service agreement are required.

To make the process of updating data sets more efficient, Elbert says there is an option to find “what’s new” in a particular section and add only what has changed from the last time the user interacted with the API. He adds that the EIA releases new data according to schedules — annually for SEDS, monthly for electricity, and weekly for petroleum and natural gas now, but possibly as often as daily once released from beta.

Elbert says the API is a long-term commitment for both the EIA working to make its data machine-readable and for developers who are using the data for apps and solutions. “We are seeing heavy usage, and we expect to see a lot more in the future,” Elbert says.

To visit the API section in beta and to register and access EIA's Electricity and State Energy Data System series, click here.