The Williams Companies was hit hard in the second quarter likemany other energy trading companies, posting a $58 million drop innet income from 2Q97. But a large portion of its trouble stemmedfrom a FERC ruling that challenged the rate-making methodology insome markets served by the company’s petroleum products pipeline.Williams took a $15.5 million charge to cover customer refundsordered by FERC, but said it plans to appeal the July 15 ruling.Williams also still is suffering from merger-related charges. Ittook a $6.1 million MAPCO merger-related charge and recordedanother $3.4 million in costs as general corporate expenses relatedto the merger.
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Heat makes air and various other gases rise, but it was able todo little if anything to prevent a general rout in natural gas cashprices Tuesday. Decreases straddled the dime level at the greatmajority of points even as heat waves continued to sear much of thenation and sparked some $1,000-plus hourly prices per MWh in somepower markets.
FERC turned the heat on pipeline competition in the Colorado andWyoming markets up a notch or two last week when it gave KNWattenberg Transmission the go-ahead to start work on its proposed109-mile Front Runner pipeline project, and gave competitorsWyoming Interstate (WIC) and Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG) thegreen light to carry out the construction of new compression andmetering facilities.
More than 70% of gas consumed could be bought from suppliersother than local distribution companies under current and proposedLDC transportation programs, according to the American GasAssociation (AGA). But the choice option still is heavily weightedtoward large customers.
Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) announced it willoffer a choice of other natural gas suppliers to an additional300,000 customers this summer, pending approval by the New JerseyBoard of Public Utilities (BPU). Less than one year ago, thecompany introduced the pilot, offering a choice of suppliers toabout 65,000 PSE&G residential customers in four New Jerseymunicipalities, Bloomfield, Piscataway, Pennsauken and Westampton.
Chesapeake Energy completed its acquisition of Hugoton Energyafter receiving shareholder approvals. Proforma for the Hugotontransaction and other announced pending acquisitions, Chesapeake’sproved oil and gas reserves will be about 1,050 Bcfe, of which 80%are natural gas. In addition, about 70% of Chesapeake’s reserveswill be proved developed producing, and 75% will consist oflong-lived Midcontinent reserves. Estimated proforma dailyproduction will exceed 410 MMcfe. Trading of Hugoton stock ceasedMarch 10, and each outstanding common share of Hugoton stock wasconverted into the right to receive 1.3 shares of Chesapeake commonstock. Holders of fractional shares will receive $8.78/Hugotonshare. About 26 million additional shares of Chesapeake will beissued to Hugoton shareholders. Including $120 million of Hugotondebt assumed by Chesapeake, the transaction is worth about $300million.
California State University (CSU) and the University ofCalifornia (UC) signed up with Enron Energy Services (EES) forpower to serve all 22 CSI campuses and all nine UC campuses andother facilities. The deal is the largest direct-access electricenergy contract in the country, Enron said. The two institutionsare projected to save more than $15 million over the next fouryears.
More than 250 commercial gas customers in the District ofColumbia will soon have the opportunity to choose a gas supplierother than Washington Gas. The District of Columbia Public ServiceCommission (PSC) approved the company’s request to offer choice inthe District to large commercial customers who use at least 60,000therms/year and who do not maintain an alternate to gas service.(60,000 therms is about 60 times what the average residentialheating customer uses annually.) Large interruptible customers whouse more than 250,000 therms annually have had supplier choicesince 1988.