An IBM Internet outage that affected many western and Canadiancustomers last week temporarily cut off access to Altrade’selectronic gas trading system Thursday afternoon costing thecompany and its customers at least 5 Bcf/d in trading volume duringa peak bidweek trading period.

“The system itself was running fine but it did knock some peopleoff if they were only going through the Internet,” said DavidHanson, Altrade’s vice president of gas marketing. “That servicethat IBM provided has been bought by AT&T but it wasn’tanything to do with that. It was essentially a communicationproblem within the network. A combination of telephone lines andhardware failed on them. Yes, we were affected, but so were 100other customers of theirs.

“I would rather it not happen during bidweek,” he said. “We didabout 12 Bcf/d [in gas trading] yesterday, but it likely cost us 5Bcf.” Hanson said on Tuesday the system handled nearly 20 Bcf ingas trades because of high bidweek traffic.

The outage was “an inconvenience for our customers,” he said.”Some traders instead did their business on the phone. Otherswaited until today. Some of them just because of the volatility ofthe market would rather carry volumes over into August on a swingbasis anyway.

“The last time we had a problem like this was about two yearsago. IBM is consistently rated very high as an Internet provider soI don’t expect to see this happening again anytime soon.”

Altrade was formed in May through a merger of the two dominantelectronic trading systems, Altra Energy’s Streamline andQuickTrade. It’s average daily volume is between 5 and 6 Bcf withabout 600 traders logged on.

Rocco Canonica

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