For the second year in a row the volume of natural gas pipeline capacity traded by the top 20 U.S. companies increased, with volumes soaring 143% from a year ago to top 12 Bcf/d, according to a report by Boston-based Capacity Center.

The rankings used a database of all the capacity release deals done on every interstate pipeline in 2011 between Jan. 1 through Sept. 30. Ranking data excluded volumes done because of acquisitions, between related nonregulated affiliates, and between regulated and nonregulated affiliates. Through gas interstate pipeline data center monitors capacity release offers, system notices and deal awards information as they occur.

More than 170 entities traded more than 20 Bcf/d on a daily equivalent basis from January through September, an increase from 15.3 Bcf/d traded over the same period in 2010, the report said. Total traded capacity in 2011 now approaches 23 Bcf/d; almost 5 Bcf/d was excluded for ranking purposes because it was traded between affiliates.

Last year’s rankings also saw an increase (see Daily GPI, Nov. 11, 2010).

“2011 saw a continuation of two key trends in capacity trading from last year,” said Capacity Center President Greg Lander. “The first trend is the increased volume level of capacity deals traded. The second trend is the ongoing concentration of capacity trading activity by the top 20 trading firms.

Omaha-based Tenaska Marketing Ventures, which repeated for the second year as the No. 1 company, nearly doubled its daily equivalent to more than 2.5 Bcf/d from 1.4 Bcf/d in 2010. BP plc moved into second place, up one spot from a year ago. According to the data for the period, Tenaska had 78% more volume than BP, although BP completed more than twice as many deals.

AGL Resources Co.’s Sequent Energy Management was in third place, moving up a spot from 2010, while Macquarie Energy jumped into the No. 4 position, up 11 spots. Hess Corp. dropped into No. 5; it was ranked third in 2010.

“In 2011, 66% of nonaffiliate deals were traded by the top 20, an increase from the 53% traded by the top 20 in 2010,” said Lander. “Further, 56% of the volume traded by the top 20 was traded by the top five. Interestingly, the grouping of trading firms in positions 11 through 20 was tight with only 160,000 Dth/d equivalent separating number 11 from number 20.”

New players cracking the top 20 list include NRG Power Marketing (10), Southern Company (11), Ohio-based retail marketer Interstate Gas Supply (14), and an affiliate of Spain’s Repsol YPF SA (18), which moved up 42 spots as its its Canadian imported liquefied natural gas came fully onstream in this year, according to Capacity Center.

Meanwhile, three dropouts from last year’s top 20 — the regulated operations of Atmos Energy Corp., Minnesota Energy Resources, and SouthStar Energy Services — fell out because of the exclusion of affiliated transactions, Capacity Center said. Also falling out of top spots were affiliates of France’s Total SA, NextEra Energy Resources and J Aron.

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