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FERC Extends Reporting Deadline for 2008 Gas Sales, Purchases

FERC has extended the deadline to July 1 for companies to file Form No. 552 reports detailing their aggregate volumes of natural gas purchases and sales for last year. The deadline initially was May 1.

The information is being sought to help the Commission and others in the market understand how price indexes are formed and used, as well as give the agency an idea of the volume of gas sales transacted in the physical market. The reporting requirement applies to all market participants, except those that buy or sell less than 2.2 million MMBtu annually and do not hold blanket sales certificates [RM07-10].

The American Forest & Paper Association, Process Gas Consumers Group, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Electric Power Supply Association, Independent Petroleum Association of America and American Gas Association requested the filing extension. They cited their members' unfamiliarity with reporting transactional data under the Commission's rules and questions about the requirements of Form No. 552, as well as issues dealing with informational systems and data collection.

Under the final rule, which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) affirmed last September, parties must report the following information about their physical gas transactions for the previous year: 1) total volume of sales and purchases; 2) the volume of transactions that were priced at fixed prices; and 3) the volume of transactions that were reported to price index publishers (see NGI, Sept. 22, 2008). Market participants also must report whether they sell gas under a blanket sales certificate. FERC said it will provide a one-time-only safe harbor for calendar year 2008 data.

The Commission has said gas market participants must report all data on Form No. 552 for transactions that use, contribute to or could contribute to a price index. This should include data on transactions involving volumes that use next-day or next-month price indexes, volumes that are reported to any price index publisher, and all volumes that could be reported to an index publisher, even if the respondent has chosen not to report to a publisher, FERC said.

Gas volumes that could be reported to an index publisher include bilateral, arms-length, fixed-price, physical natural gas transactions between nonaffiliated companies at all trading locations, according to the Commission.

Market participants also must report gas transactions that do not occur at specific locations currently designated by an index developer as a reporting location. In addition, the final rule clarifies that balancing, cash-out, operational and other similar transactions must be reported on Form No. 552 to the same extent as other types of transactions.

The Commission said end-use transactions are not categorically exempt from the reporting rule, although traditional retail service is not included in the data required for Form No. 552.

This rule was the agency's first exercise of its transparency authority that was provided by Congress under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It will allow FERC to assess the physical size of the wholesale gas market and assess the relative importance of fixed-price index transactions, as well as the relative size of traders.

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