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Venice Gathering Gets Standards-of-Conduct Waivers to Speed Restoration Efforts

FERC has granted Venice Gathering System LLC temporary waivers of agency standards of conduct dealing with the posting and recording of information on its website to spur the restoration of its hurricane-damaged system along the Louisiana coast.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of the waivers allows Venice Gathering and affiliate Targa Resource Inc. employees to share information about the status of restoration efforts, coordinate joint operations and repair work, and to share employees to get the Venice Gathering system back to its pre-hurricane condition -- without having to post every deviation of FERC's standards of conduct on its website.

"Because it is necessary for all of these communications and activities to occur on a continuing basis, the requirement to log each individual deviation would be an extremely burdensome task that would further complicate these extensive restoration efforts," Venice Gathering said in its Nov. 9 petition for emergency waivers [RM01-10, EY06-7, TS06-2].

"Venice Gathering points out that any potential risk of discrimination that may be associated with the waivers is mitigated by the fact that it currently is out of service, and the waivers will terminate when its system is restored to full operation," FERC said in its notice granting the waivers of its posting and record-keeping requirements, which was issued on Nov. 28.

In addition, FERC approved a waiver of its requirement that Venice Gathering update information on its website to reflect certain organizational changes following the completion of Targa Resources's acquisition of Venice Gathering's managing partner, Dynegy Midstream Services Ltd., in October 2005 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 1). Houston-based Targa was formed in 2003 by management and Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm.

"Due to the substantial allocation of resources to the [Venice Gathering] and Venice [Processing] Plant restoration, as well as Targa's other ongoing restoration work to its facilities damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Louisiana Gulf Coast, Targa has only limited resources available to gather the information necessary to update its website information for acquisition-related changes," Venice Gathering said in its waiver request.

Venice Gathering "expects that by Dec. 31 of this year, it will have completed all of the updates to its public website that are necessary due to the recent Targa acquisition. In addition, [it] expects that it will be in a better position by that time to estimate the extent and timing of the work necessary on its own facilities and on interconnecting facilities to restore the [gathering] system to full operation," the company told FERC.

The Commission approved the waivers until the earlier of the end of the gas day on Dec. 31 of this year, or the date on which the Venice Gathering system has returned to full pre-hurricane operation.

Venice Gathering gathers gas from offshore Louisiana fields and delivers the production to the Venice processing facility, which it operates. The Venice processing plant still has no ability to process or dehydrate gas three months after Hurricane Katrina struck. The Venice Gathering system suffered "significant damage" in the same storm, the company said.

All of the capacity upstream of the Venice system (219 MMcf/d) remained shut in as of Thursday, according to a daily report from Denver-based consulting firm Bentek Energy.

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