E&G Trading Briefs

AEP cracks down on data reporting

American Electric Power, in a response to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order, said it took appropriate actions to ensure that energy trading data is accurately reported for use in trade media indexes. Actions included: 1. changing the procedures for reporting natural gas trades to ensure that price information for use in market indexes in verified and reported by the office of AEP’s chief risk officer; 2. requiring all of its natural gas traders to certify in writing that they had neither engaged in misreporting nor been directed to do so by others or, alternatively, to explain why they could not make such a certification; 3. dismissing the five traders who could not make the above certification and who acknowledged misreporting for violating the company’s principles of business conduct; and 4. reporting the problem to federal agencies and publicly disclosing it.

Xcel Energy disciplines energy traders

e prime, a natural gas marketing and trading subsidiary of Xcel Energy, terminated or accepted resignations from four employees in Denver in connection with the reporting of inaccurate natural gas transactions to industry publications. e prime also suspended two other employees pending completion of an investigation. Xcel believes none of e prime’s reporting to industry publications had any effect on the financial accounting treatment of any transaction reported in its books and records. The company said it is unable to determine if any reporting of inaccurate trade information to industry publications affected price indices. To date, the investigation indicates that there are no similar issues with electricity trading reporting.

Cinergy Marketing & Trading and Apache Corp. part ways

CMT agreed with Apache Corp. to terminate their gas marketing relationship. Apache supplied natural gas to CMT under a long-term agreement, which originated in 1998 when Cinergy acquired ProEnergy, a gas marketing company partially owned by Apache. Apache most recently provided about 15 percent of CMT’s gas supply.

Henwood upgrades risk management tool

Henwood announced the release of RISKSYM Version 4.1. The upgrade extends Henwood’s EnerPrise Software module’s ability to handle tolling agreements and portfolios of firm transmission rights (FTRs). By including FTR portfolios, RISKSYM now incorporates the results of locational marginal pricing analysis and allocations of transmission rights to provide a complete picture of a company’s financial and physical position when operating in an ISO market.

Exelon trims its Midwest Generation power purchase

Edison International unit Midwest Generation said that a contract to sell power from its coal-fired plants in Illinois to Exelon Generation has been scaled back for the second year running. Exelon, a unit of Exelon Corp., is exercising an option to buy 687 MW out of a possible 1,265 MW, effective Jan. 1, 2004. Exelon also has firm commitments to purchase 1,696 MW from Midwest Generation’s coal-fired units in 2004, bringing the overall total to 2,383 MW. A year ago, Exelon exercised options for just 1,265 MW out of a possible 3,949 MW under the contract, effective Jan. 1, 2003, and the size of the deal is now far below its 2002 level of 5,645 MW.

Duke Energy completes sale of interest in American Ref-Fuel

Duke Energy North America (DENA) announced the closing of an agreement to sell its 50 percent ownership interest in Duke/UAE Ref-Fuel for $306 million to Highstar Renewable Fuels LLC, an affiliate of American International Group Inc., and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners III L.P., and its affiliated co-investors, each managed by Credit Suisse First Boston Private Equity. Duke/UAE Ref-Fuel owns American Ref-Fuel Co., a holding company for six waste-to-energy facilities in the northeast United States. The facilities, located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, convert municipal solid waste into energy and have a gross capacity of 380 MW. “Closing this sale is an important part of our on-going restructuring efforts, as we continue to re-align our asset portfolio,” said Robert T. Ladd, president of DENA. “We are squarely focused on maximizing the value of our wholesale merchant generation fleet.”

“With the closure of this sale, Duke Energy has now closed on asset sales of more than $1 billion in 2003,” said Richard B. Priory, chairman and chief executive officer. “We are well on our way to our previously stated goal of $1.5 billion in gross proceeds from asset sales this year.”

Regency Gas Services buys El Paso pipeline assets

Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC formed Regency Gas Services, Dallas, which acquired from El Paso Corp. about 2,300 miles of natural gas gathering lines and pipelines and four natural gas processing plants with an aggregate capacity of 205 MMcfd. Regency paid $120 million for the assets located in Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.

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IDACORP winds down power marketing

IDACORP Energy won’t be seeking new customers and will limit its maximum value at risk limits to less than $3M. Staff reductions of about 50 percent are targeted over the next 18 months. During this same time period, IDACORP is aiming for a reduction of working capital requirements for this business to less than $100M from more than $200M. The cutbacks are not expected to affect the separate trading operations of its sister company Idaho Power.

Aquila backs off energy trading

Aquila plans to scale back its participation in the energy trading business, predicting operating earnings about 30 percent less than the consensus estimate of $2 a share. The company is also cutting its annual divident from $1.20 to 70 cents a share. Aquila’s shares lost nearly two-thirds their value over the last year. The company plans to issue $900M worth of new debt and equity to shore up its balance sheet and provide liquidity for the rest of the year.

Europe’s energy traders revise contracts

With the exit of Enron, Europe’s biggest gas and power trader, many of its trading partners face multi-million dollar losses. Energy dealers across Europe, worried about the stability of U.S. trading partners, are rewriting the terms of contracts to ensure against another Enron-style collapse. The push for change comes as job cuts at European arms of U.S. groups Aquila and Dynegy occur. Reuters reported that traders say liquidity in the UK, Europe’s biggest spot gas market, is suffering as individual companies try to impose a variety of contract modification on their trading partners.

Credit worries hit Canada’s natural gas market

As credit concerns eliminate more natural gas marketers in Canada, the United States’ biggest gas supplier, those left are finding it increasingly hard to play the game. Aquila and Engage Energy, two of Canada’s top gas and power marketers, plan to close their Canadian operations, deepening the gouge left by the collapse of Enron. Some of Engage’s operations will be absorbed into parent company Duke Energy Corp.’s Canadian gas trading operation. Reuters quoted a Calgary, Alberta-based trader: “They are buying gas in, but they can’t turn around and get it out to anybody because there is nobody with good credit that they are allowed to deal with right now.” Another trader said, “It would be a perfect time for somebody with good credit to come in and swoop up some of these shops that are being taken down. If you’ve got good credit, there are a lot of people who are just dying to do business with other folks.”