Fortnightly Magazine - January 1 2002

Energy Trading & Marketing: The Evolution of the Deal

Energy traders and risk managers reengineered their business dealings to manage against unexpected political and financial risks posed by California and Enron in 2001.

The rules of energy market survival changed forever in 2001. California and Enron were both humbled by gyrating prices and blackouts in the Golden State, and financial misadventure dethroned the once-crowned king of energy trading. These twin events sent shockwaves through the very foundation of the energy trading and risk management establishment.

Gas Marketers: Oblivious to All the Fuss

New mega-marketers, niche players emphasize opportunity.

Even when the calendar flipped to 2001 and much of the energy industry was swept into the turmoil surrounding the California electric industry restructuring fiasco, gas marketers continued to thrive in the low-supply, high-demand environment.

Making Markets Work: How ISO Rules Still Cause Problems

How obscured spot prices, unhedgeable basis differentials, unreliable and financially insecure clearing practices inhibit market liquidity.

To date there has been little clarity as to how the physical and financial markets would work together to eliminate the need for continued price regulation, as FERC has proposed.

Credit Risk Exposure

Will traders finally wake up to the danger?

The urgency passed with the heat wave. During the California crisis and defaults of 2001, credit risk rose to prominence again, only to be forgotten after the California markets cooled off.

A Wrinkle in Time

Enron makes an exit; FERC cost-based rates return.

You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank. Then, you execute a debt-equity swap with an associated general offer, so you get all four cows back, with a tax-exemption for the fifth cow, of course.

People (Jan 1, 2002)

El Paso Corp. announced that Britton White Jr. has retired as executive vice president and general counsel. He was appointed to this position after El Paso acquired Tenneco Energy in 1996. Peggy A. Heeg has been named as his replacement. Heeg previously served as senior vice president and deputy general counsel. She joined Tenneco Energy in 1990 and became vice president and associate general counsel for regulated pipelines for El Paso after the merger. El Paso also announced the retirement of David A. Arledge from its board of directors.

Who’s Minding The Grid?

Some argue that gas pipelines might substitute … but … nothing will do away with the need for more transmission.

Our nation’s transmission infrastructure is increasingly unable to meet new demands for power created by rapidly changing electricity markets. Although reliability protocols ensure against catastrophic failure, there is ample evidence today that the grid is too congested.

Waiting to Exhale

Courts Deliberate on the Fate of Order 2000: The transmission industry may have to wait even longer for a final decision on challenges to Order 2000 if FERC gets its way.

Though the D.C. Circuit Court could very well add to the delay in resolving some thorny issues of Order 2000, it appears that the court has essentially given the challengers a partial victory, even before a decision is rendered.