The FERC order (Order 720) requiring many intrastate pipelines, storage operators, local distribution companies and utilities to post natural gas flow and capacity data at the most significant parts within their systems is due to be implemented Oct. 1. The addition of the intrastate information to existing market data will provide an "unprecedented and crucial level of visibility into natural gas market supply and demand dynamics across North America," according to analysts at Evergreen, CO-based Bentek Energy, an energy market analytics firm.

"Interstate pipelines have posted natural gas flow and capacity data for many years. Although the data has provided a highly accurate depiction of the flow of natural gas across North America, without intrastate information, the whole picture of gas movement has remained incomplete. Now that we'll have the missing puzzle piece, our industry will see a much more comprehensive view of the natural gas market," said E. Russell (Rusty) Braziel, managing director of Bentek.

The final rule, which was issued in November 2008, established new posting requirements under Section 23 of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) that call for all interstate and certain major noninterstate pipelines to post on their publicly accessible websites daily operational information, such as scheduled volume information and design capacity for certain receipt and delivery points (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21, 2008).

The order defined a major noninterstate pipeline as a pipe that is not classified as a natural gas company under the NGA and delivers annually more than 50 Bcf/year during a three-year period. Noninterstate pipes with deliveries at this level contribute to price formation, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The FERC initiative also requires qualifying noninterstate pipelines to post daily specific scheduled flow information at each receipt or delivery point with a design capacity of 15 MMcf/d or more.

In addition, Order 720 called for interstate pipelines to post data on no-notice service, which allows shippers on certain pipeline systems the ability to receive natural gas without first scheduling (nominating) the gas. The requirement for interstate pipelines to post no-notice data has been in effect for several months, and approximately 30 interstate pipes are providing the information, Bentek Energy said.

"Utilization of the new intrastate and no-notice data sources will significantly improve the quality of market participants' analytical research," Braziel said. "As a result, energy traders, market makers, supply managers and investors will be able to step up the accuracy of their decision making in the natural gas arena."

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