A senior White House official said yesterday he is satisfied with the thoroughness of a preliminary Energy Department report that basically exonerated the oil industry of charges it hoarded gaoline supplies to create the summer gas shortage.
Stuart E. Eizenstat, President Carter's chief domestic policy adviser, briefed reporters yesterday on his investigation into the methods used by the Energy Department in compiling the report, which was made public last month.
"As a preliminary report, it is quite satisfactory," Eizenstat said.
The president ordered Eizenstat to review the Energy Department's findings after The Washington Post reported that the preliminary conclusion that no widespread hoarding took place was based entirely on information supplied by the oil industry.
The preliminary report covered refining activities from January through May of this year. For the first three months of that period, Eizenstat said, the Energy Department findings were based on information supplied by the government's Energy Information Agency, which includes data from nonindustry sources.
For April and May, he said, the information was supplied by the American Petroleum Institute.
Eizenstat said the Energy Department did not dispatch a team of investigators to check on the industry figures because it already had auditors in place at most refineries. While the information that formed the basis of the preliminary report was not cross-checked with the data collected by the auditors, such crosschecking will be done before the final report is issued, probably at the end of October.
Eizenstat said the final report, which will cover refining activities through August, will be based on information collected by the Energy Information Agency. In addition, he said, the government has hired the accounting firm of Alexander Grant to audit the refining activities of five large oil companies and compare its findings with those of the Energy Department as a further check on the accuracy of the government investigation.
Eizenstat emphasized several times that the report issued in August was preliminary. He said that while the investigation to that point had found no evidence of industry-wide hoarding, it did not rule out the possibility of hoarding by individual companies. He said he did not know if there had been such hoarding by companies.
The Energy Department report said that while there was no hoarding by refiners "some refiners have been conservative in their use of (crude oil) stocks."