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Global Trader Mercuria Coming to Houston

Mercuria Energy Group Ltd., which claims to be one of the world's five largest independent energy traders, will open an office in Houston some time in the fall, a spokesman told NGI. The Houston office of the European firm will trade natural gas, power and petroleum products, he said.

One employee has been hired for the office. Kevin Woolsey, formerly of Koch's energy trading business, has been working for Mercuria in Geneva, Switzerland, "getting to know us," said spokesman David Ensor. Woolsey, a fuel oil and feedstocks trader, will transfer to Houston when the office opens.

Industry press reports have said Mercuria has hired at least nine traders, originators and analysts from Merrill Lynch Commodities in Houston. Ensor would not verify whether this is true. "I cannot comment on personnel matters. I can only discuss employees that we currently have," he said.

Entergy-Koch Trading was acquired by Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2004 (see NGI, Nov. 8, 2004).

Ensor also would not say whether Mercuria has secured office space in Houston.

Asked whether the U.S. office will trade emissions credits, Ensor said, "We do trade in emissions credits from here in Geneva. We do have publicly announced plans to increase our carbon emissions trading activity globally, but I have nothing to tell you right now about U.S.-based personnel doing that." In March Mercuria participated in the U.S. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction and was assigned allowances for 2009-2012, according to the firm's website.

Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. is based in Larnaca, Cyprus. Trading activities are managed through Mercuria Energy Group Holding SA of Geneva. Mercuria Energy is privately owned by its founding shareholders and a group of senior employees and employs more than 650 people worldwide. Global turnover in 2008 was more than US$46 billion.

Russia's Gazprom also is opening a trading operation in Houston that will include natural gas as well as emissions credits (see NGI, May 25; Aug. 21, 2006).

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