U.S. natural gas pipeline capacity traded in the first nine months of 2010 jumped by 143% year/year to more than 8.3 Bcf/d, according to Capacity Center, which tracks activity on every domestic interstate pipeline.

The Boston-based company's Top 20 Capacity Trader rankings, issued on Wednesday, found that all but six of the top 20 traders increased capacity trading activity from 8% to 215% between January and September 2010 over the comparable period of 2009 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 7, 2009).

More than 475 entities traded more than 15.3 Bcfe/d from January through September 2010.

Several new players squeezed into the 2010 rankings, but Tenaska Inc. claimed the top spot for the second year in a row by doubling its daily equivalent traded to more than 1.4 Bcf/d, according to Capacity Center. Amerada Hess Corp. retained the second spot, and BP plc rose to No. 3 this year, up two places. Sequent Energy Management LP, an AGL Resources Co. unit, climbed into the No. 4 spot, while Atmos Energy Corp. claimed the No. 5 position.

"In a reflection of different business models, the repeating No.1, Tenaska did 75% more volume than repeating No. 2, Hess, yet Hess did more than twice as many deals," Capacity Center noted.

"2010 marked a significant shift toward concentration of traded volumes by the top five," said Capacity Center President Greg Lander. "Slightly less than 50% of the top 20 traders' total volumes are traded by the top five.

"Further concentration can be found in the grouping from numbers 11 through 20. Only 120 MDth/d equivalent separates number 11 from number 20."

New additions to the Top 20 ranking include Minnesota Energy (7), Florida Power and Light (18) and J Aron and Co. (19). Falling out of the ranking this year are Iberdrola, JP Morgan, The Energy Authority and Texla Energy Management.

The Top 20 Capacity Trader rankings use Capacity Center's database of all the capacity release deals done on every interstate pipeline between Jan. 1 through Sept. 30. Ranking data excluded volumes done because of acquisitions and between related nonregulated affiliates. Included are trades between regulated entities and their nonregulated affiliates.

The rankings are available at www.capacitycenter.com.

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