While Washington D.C.-based trade groups for gas pipelines andLDCs have had some defections recently, the association for majorgas producers anticipates a small rise in its membership for nextyear.

“I actually expect to increase our membership [by] a fewcompanies,” said R. Skip Horvath, president of the Natural GasSupply Association (NGSA), despite the fact it has endured itsworst year ever — with its former president, Nicholas Bush,convicted and imprisoned for embezzling nearly $3 million from thegroup.

“I don’t have a target yet” by which NGSA hopes to boost itsmembership, he told NGI. “We’re still working on that. But thereare producers out there who have not been a part of NGSA, and Ithink they might be interested in our services.”

He estimated the group currently has “roughly” 20producer-members, and that its budget for 2000 will be below $2.5million. “It’s been that for a while.”

He doesn’t think the recent association departures of SempraEnergy and Kinder Morgan Inc. portend a trend in the gas industry.Sempra Energy, parent of Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas& Electric, announced it intends to leave the American GasAssociation (AGA), the Interstate Natural Gas Association ofAmerica (INGAA) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) “effectiveimmediately,” while Kinder Morgan said it would not renew itsmembership in INGAA for next year. Kinder Morgan, parent of NaturalGas Pipeline Co. of America, also has shut down its Washingtonoffice.

“I want to throw a word of caution about over-interpreting orreading to much into offices closing or people jumping out ofassociations because it happens all of the time. Maybe we’re seeingmore activity in this regard now because of all the mergers,”Horvath said.

But these are “often just temporary solutions to cost-cutting,and later on people realize they get some value there and theyrejoin,” he noted. Kinder Morgan has said it plans to return toINGAA once it gets the finances of KN Energy, which it purchasedthis year, in order. But Sempra Energy has not indicated it willrejoin the associations.

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