Mercuria Energy Trading has hired two BP plc liquefied natural gas (LNG) traders and is launching an LNG trading business, the unit of Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. said Tuesday.

Dan Masters and Andrew Helm both held senior trading positions with BP’s LNG business, Helm in Houston and Masters in London. Masters will lead the Mercuria LNG trading operation, Mercuria said.

“The LNG business is an important growth area in the global energy business,” said Daniel Jaeggi, Mercuria head of trading and cofounder. “We are very pleased that Dan and Andrew are joining us, both having outstanding track records in the LNG business. This is a new significant business for Mercuria; it fits well into our existing portfolio of activities.”

Mercuria is a privately owned international group of companies active over a range of energy markets including crude oil and refined petroleum products, natural gas, power, coal, biodiesel, vegetable oils and carbon emissions. It said it is one of the world’s five largest independent energy traders.

Two Mercuria spokespersons did not respond to NGI‘s request for more information by press time.

Last year Mercuria opened a trading office in Houston with its first employee being Kevin Woolsey, formerly of Koch’s energy trading business (see Daily GPI, June 4, 2009). Entergy-Koch Trading was acquired by Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2004 (see Daily GPI, Nov. 2, 2004).

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