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Orbital Insight Expands Coverage of Global Energy Product

By Kendall Russell | November 10, 2017
      Orbital Insight's oil tracking analytics. Photo: Orbital Insight.

      Orbital Insight’s oil tracking analytics. Photo: Orbital Insight.

      Orbital Insight announced the general availability of Orbital Insight Energy, with rolling country releases to complete the world’s top 25 oil markets, including all Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members, by the end of December. The product tracks the amount of oil being stored in floating roof tanks in a given country, providing insight and transparency into that nation’s overall oil storage. This expansion of the product increases its global coverage, which previously included the United States, China and Europe.

      Using a proprietary combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer vision, Orbital Insight has developed the ability estimate a country’s oil storage by measuring shadows cast by individual oil tanks. The company analyzes satellite imagery to find all the floating roof oil storage tanks located in a particular country, and then uses algorithms to calculate the fluctuations in the volume of oil in those tanks.

      According to the company, this expanded product coverage has already yielded meaningful insights, including finding 624 total floating roof storage tanks in Saudi Arabia alone, nearly double the 318 reported by industry database The official source for oil data in OPEC is the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI), which provides data for oil stocks stored in Saudi Arabia, comprised of floating roof tanks and other storage modalities. From 2013 to 2015, there was a positive directional trend between JODI data for total Saudi oil storage and Orbital Insight’s analysis of floating roof tank storage amounts. This positive directional trend suggests that estimated storage for floating roof tanks is an actionable proxy for tracking overall changes in total oil stocks.

      However, Orbital Insight noticed an abrupt change in Q1 2016. While JODI has shown overall Saudi storage as decreasing steadily since then, by about 70 million barrels, Orbital Insight’s numbers do not reflect those storage cuts. Instead, Orbital Insight has seen floating roof tank storage slightly increase by 2 million barrels over the same time period.

      “Our technology provides customers data that’s grounded in observable truth for a notoriously difficult-to-track commodity,” said James Crawford, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Orbital Insight.