Six of Top 10 Gas Marketers Make Top 10 in Power
Yet another example of gas-power convergence shows up in NGI's
ranking of the top gas and power marketers based on third quarter
volumes. Three of the top five marketers of each commodity and six
of the top 10 appear on both lists.
But perhaps the biggest surprise is that some of the largest
power marketers have recently migrated over into the top gas ranks.
Tractebel Energy Marketing's gas volumes soared more than 10,000%
by the end of the third quarter from 3Q97. Its power volumes grew
more than 1,400%.
The subsidiary of Belgium's largest electric utility has quietly
become one of the largest players in the U.S. energy market. And it
has accomplished that feat in a somewhat nontraditional way. Most
of the big marketing gainers over the past couple years made their
gains by buying up other companies or forming alliances. PG&E
Energy, for example, jumped into the top 10 in the gas and power
rankings when it purchased Valero Energy's gas unit and Teco
Pipeline. Southern Company moved into the gas rankings by teaming
up with Vastar. But marketing community insiders say Tractebel has
accomplished the same thing by quietly hiring off top traders and
marketers from other major companies. During the third quarter
Tractebel sold 3.74 Bcf/d of gas and 19.62 million MWh of power,
compared to 0.03 Bcf/d of gas and 1.28 million MWh of power in
3Q97. One source inside the company stated, "You see that kind of
growth when a company has an aggressive growth plan like we do and
you're starting from scratch."
The Houston-based company, which focuses on selling energy
either to intermediaries and utilities, or to the end user, now has
a staff of 60, about 45 of which trade power, gas and liquefied
fuel. Tractebel's global energy and services business is active in
more than 100 countries providing services in fields that range
from electricity and gas to engineering, communications, technical
installations and waste management. It has been a prominent player
in the U.S. power generation market this year. Tractebel formed a
joint venture in January with Juno Beach, FL-based FPL Group to
purchase two existing 300-MW gas-fired, combined-cycle power plants
in the Northeast. And it formed a joint venture with Sprague Energy
in February to build a new gas-fired, independent power project in
Newington, NH. But its gains in marketing have gone relatively
Probably not surprising to anyone, however, is that Enron still
sits atop the list of both power and gas marketers. Also not too
surprising, Dynegy and Aquila Energy are the other two companies
making the top five in both categories. In addition to these three,
Duke Energy, Southern Company Energy Marketing, and PG&E Energy
made the top 10 in both categories.
Most of the top gas marketers saw modest to significant growth
in volumes from the third quarter of 1997. Others that grew gas
volumes substantially were Aquila Energy, 35%; Coral Energy, 27%;
Houston Industries Wholesale Energy, 24%; and Enron, 22%. Two
companies saw volumes decline. Sonat Marketing dropped 16%, and El
Paso Energy dropped 15%. An El Paso spokeswoman attributed the
company's decline, in part, to weather and said during the period
El Paso was working to integrate LG&E Energy's trading books,
which it had purchased.
El Paso fared better on the power side where the company ranked
at No. 14 but gained 313% in volume from the third quarter of 1997.
However, there were two companies that saw huge jumps in power
volumes. Tractebel at No. 15 jumped 1,434%, and Statoil Energy at
No. 9 jumped 1,157%. Elsewhere on the list, gains of more than 100%
were the norm.
NGI queried companies for their wholesale gas and power volumes
in North America only, excluding financial or non-physical volumes.
Some power volume figures also came from quarterly filings with the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Joe Fisher, Houston; Rocco Canonica