Royal Dutch Shell plc said last week it will merge its active U.S.-based Coral operating companies into Shell Energy North America (US) LP. The merger is expected to be completed in 2008 and affects Coral Energy Resources LP, Coral Power LLC, Coral Energy Management LLC and Coral Gas Marketing LLC.

“Our commitment to customer service includes making our systems and processes easier, more efficient and user friendly. This merger will help accomplish that by clearly illustrating our relationship to Shell and the Shell brand and eliminating confusion caused by multiple operating companies with multiple names,” said Shell Energy North America CEO Mark Hanafin.

The company announced its plans so that it can begin to work with customers, counterparties, regulatory agencies and others in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition. It’s a detailed process, but it will yield a more simplified, understandable corporate structure for customers, vendors and our employees, Hanafin said.

Shell Energy North America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell and is headquartered in Houston. The company and its subsidiaries trade and market natural gas, wholesale power and risk management products with counterparties and customers throughout the region.

In September Shell said that effective Oct. 1, Houston-based Coral Energy Holding LP would become Shell Energy North America (US) LP, and Coral Energy Canada Inc. would become Shell Energy North America (Canada) Inc. Coral was one of the leading North American gas marketing companies, according to NGI‘s rankings, and it was the third largest in the first three months of 2007 (see NGI, June 25). The company also increased its marketing reach in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada earlier this year with the purchase of Avista Energy Inc., the energy merchant arm of Avista Corp. (see NGI, July 9).

Earlier this month a federal court in Houston entered a consent order settling charges by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) that five current and former Shell/Coral energy traders during 2001 and 2002 reported or caused the reporting of false natural gas trade information to compilers of monthly price indexes in an attempt to manipulate prices. The traders all were employed by Shell Trading Gas and Power Co. in providing services for Coral Energy Resources LP at the time of the false reporting, the CFTC said.

Coral Energy was formed in 1995 when Shell and Tejas Gas Corp. combined their gas marketing businesses. Shell Canada subsequently obtained an equity ownership interest in Coral. Shell Oil later acquired Tejas Gas.

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