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Internet Problems Disrupt Altrade Gas Trading

Internet Problems Disrupt Altrade Gas Trading

An IBM Internet outage that affected many western and Canadian customers last week temporarily cut off access to Altrade's electronic gas trading system Thursday afternoon costing the company and its customers at least 5 Bcf/d in trading volume during a peak bidweek trading period.

"The system itself was running fine but it did knock some people off if they were only going through the Internet," said David Hanson, Altrade's vice president of gas marketing. "That service that IBM provided has been bought by AT&T but it wasn't anything to do with that. It was essentially a communication problems within the network. A combination of telephone lines and hardware failed on them. Yes, we were affected, but so were 100 other customers of theirs.

"I would rather it not happen during bidweek," he said. "We did about 12 Bcf/d [in gas trading] yesterday, but it likely cost us 5 Bcf." Hanson said on Tuesday the system handled nearly 20 Bcf in gas trades because of high bidweek traffic.

The outage was "an inconvenience for our customers," he said. "Some traders instead did their business on the phone. Others waited until today. Some of them just because of the volatility of the market would rather carry volumes over into August on a swing basis anyway.

"The last time we had a problem like this was about two years ago. IBM is consistently rated very high as an Internet provider so I don't expect to see this happening again anytime soon."

Altrade was formed in May through a merger of the two dominant electronic trading systems, Altra Energy's Streamline and QuickTrade. It's average daily volume is between 5 and 6 Bcf with about 600 traders logged on.

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