Geoff Zakaib, the Director of Energy, Utilities & Mining Advisory Services for PricewaterhouseCoopers pointed out to me that the US Securities and Exchange Commission will likely be using XBRL as part of their modernization of oil and gas disclosures.
The final ruling can be found on the SEC web site, see pages 94 and 95. Section VIII. Application of Interactive Data Format to Oil and Gas Disclosures states in part:
"In the Proposing Release, we sought comment on the desirability of rules that would permit, or require, oil and gas companies to present the tabular disclosures in Subpart 1200 in interactive data format in addition to the currently required format. Most commenters addressing the topic supported the use of XBRL for oil and gas disclosures. They believed using interactive data would be very helpful to investors and analysts."
Making this information available to investors and analysts in this manner is great, but consider how economists might be able to use this type of information. Imagine economists being able to do a rather simple query and tie their models directly to the information disclosed in the financial statements of every oil and gas company. Heck, why limit it to just oil and gas companies?
Today, gathering this information can be an excruciating process involving humans rekeying quite a lot of information. Tomorrow, because the reduced effort of gathering the information, more detailed information can be gathered and used in economic and other models. Also, because the time involved in gathering the information is less due to the automation of the process, the information will be available sooner.
Financial disclosures of public companies and nonfinancial oil and gas disclosures is a great start and it is great that the SEC is starting this process. But imagine other places these same techniques for collecting and using this information could be useful.
If people have other ideas where XBRL might be useful in collecting and redistributing information, please leave a comment.