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CMS, Duke Close on Sale of Panhandle, Trunkline

CMS, Duke Close on Sale of Panhandle, Trunkline

CMS Energy, announcing completion of the $2.2 billion deal to buy Duke Energy's Panhandle Eastern and Trunkline pipeline and LNG assets, also has acquired a president and COO for the new CMS Panhandle Pipeline companies. Christopher A. Helms had been Duke's general manager of business development and managing director of its PanEnergy Services Europe subsidiary.

Helms said CMS Panhandle will be keeping almost 1,100 operations employees to run field transmission, administration and marketing for CMS Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co., CMS Trunkline Gas Co., and CMS Trunkline LNG Co. "We're continuing to be opportunistic and to work on the transition over to CMS," Helms said.

The center of operations will continue to be in Houston. Helms had been with PanEnergy and later Duke Energy since 1990 when he joined the company's legal department. Duke acquired the pipelines as part of its purchase of PanEnergy about two years ago for $7.7 billion. It is retaining Texas Eastern pipeline and PanEnergy's midstream and marketing assets. CMS also recently collected its own midstream assets, buying the 2,000 miles of Midcontinent gathering lines, gas processing and liquids production of Tulsa, OK-based Continental Natural Gas.

The gathering and pipeline acquisitions give Michigan-based CMS Energy gas supply lines from the Southwest to its gas and electric distribution subsidiary, Consumers' Energy. It comes at a time of tight power supplies in the Midwest which argues for new power plant construction. In fact within a week of the CMS/Duke announcement last November, CMS said it had struck a deal to deliver gas through Panhandle Eastern for a new large (550 MW) cogeneration plant replacement for the old Ford Motor and Rouge Steel power plant in Dearborn, MI

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