Yet another example of gas-power convergence shows up in NGI’sranking of the top gas and power marketers based on third quartervolumes. Three of the top five marketers of each commodity and sixof the top 10 appear on both lists.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is that some of the largestpower marketers have recently migrated over into the top gas ranks.Tractebel Energy Marketing’s gas volumes soared more than 10,000%by the end of the third quarter from 3Q97. Its power volumes grewmore than 1,400%.

The subsidiary of Belgium’s largest electric utility has quietlybecome one of the largest players in the U.S. energy market. And ithas accomplished that feat in a somewhat nontraditional way. Mostof the big marketing gainers over the past couple years made theirgains by buying up other companies or forming alliances. PG&ampEEnergy, for example, jumped into the top 10 in the gas and powerrankings when it purchased Valero Energy’s gas unit and TecoPipeline. Southern Company moved into the gas rankings by teamingup with Vastar. But marketing community insiders say Tractebel hasaccomplished the same thing by quietly hiring off top traders andmarketers from other major companies. During the third quarterTractebel sold 3.74 Bcf/d of gas and 19.62 million MWh of power,compared to 0.03 Bcf/d of gas and 1.28 million MWh of power in3Q97. One source inside the company stated, “You see that kind ofgrowth when a company has an aggressive growth plan like we do andyou’re starting from scratch.”

The Houston-based company, which focuses on selling energyeither to intermediaries and utilities, or to the end user, now hasa staff of 60, about 45 of which trade power, gas and liquefiedfuel. Tractebel’s global energy and services business is active inmore than 100 countries providing services in fields that rangefrom electricity and gas to engineering, communications, technicalinstallations and waste management. It has been a prominent playerin the U.S. power generation market this year. Tractebel formed ajoint venture in January with Juno Beach, FL-based FPL Group topurchase two existing 300-MW gas-fired, combined-cycle power plantsin the Northeast. And it formed a joint venture with Sprague Energyin February to build a new gas-fired, independent power project inNewington, NH. But its gains in marketing have gone relativelyunnoticed.

Probably not surprising to anyone, however, is that Enron stillsits atop the list of both power and gas marketers. Also not toosurprising, Dynegy and Aquila Energy are the other two companiesmaking the top five in both categories. In addition to these three,Duke Energy, Southern Company Energy Marketing, and PG&ampE Energymade the top 10 in both categories.

Most of the top gas marketers saw modest to significant growthin volumes from the third quarter of 1997. Others that grew gasvolumes substantially were Aquila Energy, 35%; Coral Energy, 27%;Houston Industries Wholesale Energy, 24%; and Enron, 22%. Twocompanies saw volumes decline. Sonat Marketing dropped 16%, and ElPaso Energy dropped 15%. An El Paso spokeswoman attributed thecompany’s decline, in part, to weather and said during the periodEl Paso was working to integrate LG&ampE Energy’s trading books,which it had purchased.

El Paso fared better on the power side where the company rankedat No. 14 but gained 313% in volume from the third quarter of 1997.However, there were two companies that saw huge jumps in powervolumes. Tractebel at No. 15 jumped 1,434%, and Statoil Energy atNo. 9 jumped 1,157%. Elsewhere on the list, gains of more than 100%were the norm.

NGI queried companies for their wholesale gas and power volumesin North America only, excluding financial or non-physical volumes.Some power volume figures also came from quarterly filings with theFederal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Joe Fisher, Houston; Rocco Canonica

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