About Us

Economic Insight, Inc. (EII) is a firm of consulting economists with a principal focus on energy, the environment, and the economics of natural resources. Samuel A. Van Vactor founded the firm with the goal of providing reliable and insightful analysis for government and private clients. These services include policy analysis, strategic studies, market forecasting, industry surveys, data collection and management, lectures and presentations, conferences, and expert witness services for regulatory hearings, litigation, and international arbitration. Among many other activities, EII provided administrative and analytical support to Exxon concerning the tragic Exxon Valdez oil spill. Support services included analysis of environmental damage, impact on tourism and the local economy, and the consequence of a punitive damage award. In addition to consulting services, Economic Insight manages the subscriber-based publications Pacific West Oil Data and the West Coast Petroleum Directory. Economic Insight is based in Sisters, Oregon.  The mailing address is P.O. Box 2295, Sisters, OR  97759. The telephone number is (503) 222-2425.


Policy Analysis . The energy industries are frequently at the center of policy debates concerning national security, taxation, and regulation. Electricity, natural gas, and oil play a unique role in economic development, where the incentives and goals of private parties can diverge from the public interest. Over the years, EII economists have provided insightful advice to politicians and government agencies - advice that has analyzed the costs and benefits of the status quo and alternatives. For example, EII staff members have provided policy studies to:

           The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on international crude oil prices and the Alaska natural gas pipeline; 


           The Alaska Senate and the Cato Institute on the export of North Slope oil; 


           The California Energy Commission on oil storage; 


           The states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho on information systems for energy emergencies; 


           The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the development of a natural gas strategy for member states; 


           The national oil company of South Africa (Sasol) on regulating the natural gas industry in southern Africa


           The American Petroleum Institute (API) on proposals by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) for determining royalty obligations; 


           Nomura Securities on the restructuring of the Japanese National Oil Company (JNOC); 


           The Western Interstate Energy Board, a primer on the oil industry; 


           The Energy Information Administration on the status of markets managed by Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs); 


           U.S. government employees on the relationship between natural gas and electricity pricing. 




Strategic Studies and Energy Market Forecasting . Energy firms have to cope with extreme price volatility, counter-party risk, regulatory uncertainty, and the accidents of nature. Frequently they need outside assistance on product development and the economic environment they face. EII economists have provided strategic advice on oil, natural gas, and electricity markets for:

           The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) on natural gas supplies and implications for BPA's marketing; 

           The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on forecasting natural gas prices for the Council's power plans; 

           Chase Econometrics, forecasts of oil market developments; 

           The California Power Exchange in the design and development of a forward electricity market; 

           The CEO of the Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation, quarterly overviews of economic and energy market developments; 

           Tokyo Gas, a study of risk management practices in the gas industry; 

           The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD), a study of the economics of a proposed pumped storage project for Lake Elsinore, California.


Industry Surveys . EII developed and published the Energy Market Report from 1997 through 2009. (Argus Media acquired the report in August 2009). EII's experience with publications on electricity and oil markets demonstrates a ready capability to survey and document a variety of specialized economic activities:

           EII has collected and analyzed data on public environmental preferences and attitudes for Exxon following the Alaska oil spill;


           EII economists have conducted nationwide surveys on the types and frequency of computer viruses for the Mitsubishi Research Institute; 


           Members of the firm have compiled data on the oil and gas industries in Alaska, California, and the world market in various commercial disputes. 

Data Collection and Management . Over the last decade, EII staff have developed and maintained a series of large databases for a variety of public and private clients. Members of the firm have researched the petroleum industry in Alaska and California as well as the valuation of foreign crude oils for several anti-trust and tax disputes. Data collected for Pacific West Oil Data provide unique public and proprietary collections of refinery data, petroleum product prices, and data on oil consumption and production. For further information on data availability please contact EII at (503) 222-2425.


Lectures and Appearances . Dr. Van Vactor has prepared a series of lectures on natural gas markets in developing countries and delivers them in Singapore and Tokyo on a regular basis. The Centre for Management Technology (CMT), and UNI Strategic have hosted the lectures. They include a description of oil and gas markets, covering topics such as the development of commodity markets, futures exchanges (such as NYMEX and the ICE), the over-the-counter (OTC) market, spot and forward pricing, risk management, standardized contracts, and index pricing. Also included is a description of contract pricing in the LNG market and the development of an LNG spot market. As part of the lecture on gas markets, participants play an oil or gas trading game to learn about refinery flows, grid balancing, and risk management.

EII personnel frequently speak at conferences and related events. Recent presentations were given at Argus Media's annual Asphalt conference, its conference on commodity regulation, The SMI Group's conference on financial modeling in the energy industries, and the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) annual conference.


Conferences. Over the years EII staff have supported a variety of energy conferences. Dr. Van Vactor co-chaired the United States Association for Energy Economics (USAEE) annual conference in 1992. In addition, the Energy Market Report sponsored a wide variety of conferences dealing with the development of power markets and electricity trading. In 2000 EII staff hosted a conference in Portland, Volatile Energy Prices, which helped put the California energy crisis in perspective.


Expert Testimony . The firm has researched energy industry activities throughout the world. It has conducted a series of studies on the valuation of domestic and foreign crude oils for anti-trust, contract, and tax disputes and provided expert testimony and affidavits based on these analyses. EII economists have also provided expert testimony before State Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on regulated energy industries, including natural gas pipelines in the western United States, electricity market restructuring, and pricing disputes. Recent projects include:

           Analytical and administrative support services for Exxon concerning the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska


           Testimony and reports on behalf of Exxon concerning its tax dispute with the State of Alaska;


           Testimony for the California Power Exchange submitted to FERC concerning regulated rates;


           Testimony and report before FERC on behalf of the "transaction finality group" concerning electricity price refunds in the Pacific Northwest


           Testimony on behalf of Sempra concerning contract provisions and pricing of California natural gas;


           Preparation of testimony and construction of a database on behalf of Exxon in its contract dispute with the State of California over the pricing of heavy oil;


           Arbitration testimony for Techint concerning the value of Nile Blend crude oil;


           Preparation of testimony for Conoco and BP on the structure of the natural gas industry;


           Testimony and report submitted to FERC for Williams and Coral Energy concerning the methodology for determining electricity and gas prices;


           Testimony and reports before FERC on behalf of Coral concerning its long-term power supply contract to the State of California;


           Testimony and reports for Robert Barman on the structure of the gasoline market;


           Preparation of testimony for the U.S. Department of Justice on business losses due to LNG tanker repairs;


           Arbitration testimony and reports for Gaz de France in a dispute with ENI;


           Arbitration testimony and reports on crude oil pricing in the world oil market for the Trans-Asiatic Oil Pipeline in its dispute with the National Iranian Oil Company;


           Arbitration testimony for Gas Natural on pricing of Atlantic LNG delivered to New England;


           Preparation of testimony for a variety of plaintiffs, including LADWP, SMUD, and the City and County of California regarding price manipulation in the California gas market;


           Preparation of testimony and reports for Gallo in price manipulation in the California gas market;


           Testimony and report before the Mississippi Public Service Commission on the economics of Southern Company's proposed coal gasification power generation plant there;


          Testimony and report before the Mississippi Public Service Commission on Entergy’s proposal to join the Midwest Independent System Operator;


          Testimony before the FERC concerning alleged pricing violations in the 2000 California Power crisis;


          Testimony and report concerning economic damages associated with alleged medical malpractice and wrongful death.



EII publishes:

Pacfic West Oil Data , a monthly compendium of vital data and statistics covering the petroleum-related industries in PADD-V and the Pacific Rim. It is produced in hard copy and CD-ROM form.

West Coast Petroleum Industry Directory, under the Pacific West Oil Data name, is a quarterly "phone book" listing key executives and companies in the West Coast petroleum and products industries.


Recent publications by EII economists can be accessed through the Publications page.