Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP is forming a gas services and marketing business as the focal point for all of its existing gas supply and marketing activities. Enterprise said Tuesday it plans to roll its producer wellhead services, facility fuel procurement, pipeline and storage capacity optimization and market customer delivery arrangements into the unit, which will operate as a parallel business to its existing natural gas liquids (NGL) and petrochemical services and marketing business.

By linking its U.S. gas assets into one business unit, Enterprise expects to reduce its operating costs. Enterprise's pipelines, processing plants and production platforms now handle more than 10 Bcf/d, or about 20% of the nation's daily output from the Lower 48 states, and this volume is expected to grow as projects currently under development, including the Independence Hub and Trail (see Daily GPI, Jan. 30), the Sherman Extension pipeline (see Daily GPI, Dec. 21, 2006), and the Meeker and Pioneer processing plants (see Daily GPI, Feb. 15), are completed and begin operations.

"Creating a dedicated natural gas services and marketing team is the logical next step for the partnership as we expand and optimize our natural gas franchise creating additional demand for our hard assets and incremental growth opportunities," said CEO Robert G. Phillips. "In addition, this group will allow us to better coordinate our natural gas purchasing activities."

Phillips said that because of the partnership's "rapid growth in recent years, multiple groups throughout the organization are currently purchasing natural gas as fuel for our processing, fractionation and compressor facilities; for operational reliability of our pipelines; and for sales to our industrial and utility customers. We believe the formation of this group will enable us to link our natural gas assets, lower our operating expenses and realize higher margins on current and future throughput."

Jim Teague, Enterprise's executive vice president with responsibility for the NGL marketing group and NGL pipeline and processing services, will lead the formation of the gas unit, Phillips said.

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