The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) andthe Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) currently areeyeing a number of restructuring options – one of which is tocombine the two groups into a single pipeline association,officials said. INGAA is looking south of the border as well tostrengthen its ties with Mexico.

A second option would have INGAA and CEPA maintain theirseparate associations, but establish an “umbrellaorganization…through some type of council, where we could meetonce a year of maybe even bi-yearly to discuss natural gas issues,”CEPA President Myron Kanik told NGI. The two pipe groups alreadyhave a “working relationship,” he said, adding that they meet eachyear in the United States and in Canada. “So it’s now a matter ofwhether we would just formalize that relationship.”

The Calgary-based CEPA, which represents major gas, oil andproducts pipelines in Canada, is “interested in merging if it makessense and there are efficiencies and some cost savings in doingthis,” Kanik noted. But, he acknowledged, “we’re having difficultyputting our arms around what kinds of savings there would be, andwhere our agendas overlap and where they don’t. We’re slightlydifferent associations right now. We’re more technical, financial[and] economic-oriented up here. INGAA is more political,financial.”

The biggest stumbling block to merging is the present make-up ofthe two associations, Kanik said. “The problem for us is up inCanada we keep all of our pipelines in [this one] association, bothcrude oil and gas. But in the United States, your oil pipelines are[represented] completely different from your gas pipelines.” Assuch, CEPA has a “completely different agenda and differentperspective” on many energy issues than INGAA does. IncludingMexico, which has only one pipeline (Pemex), in the group couldprove to be even more difficult, Kanik believes. “…[T]hey’rereally not at the level where either one of us are. They’re juststructuring their industry right now.”

CEPA and INGAA, Kanik said, are a “long ways away” from making afinal decision about merging their two associations. He noted thetwo groups plan to review various options over the summer, butadded “it would be fall before our two boards could get togetherand we could look at an options document.”

For INGAA President Jerald Halvorsen, combining the two groupsis just a natural progression. “With political boundaries [betweenthe U.S. and Canada] meaning almost nothing in the natural gasmarket, it makes less and less sense over time to have separaterepresentation” for example on the Gas Industry Standards Board andthe Gas Research Institute. He noted that INGAA plans to look intothe possibility of combining with CEPA “in the next month or so” inorder to report back to its board of directors in July.

INGAA also is keeping an eye towards Mexico, which is “fastbecoming part of the North American gas marketplace,” Halvorsensaid. He noted INGAA plans to meet with government officials thereabout possibly opening an office in Mexico City. “

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