The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on a request by El Paso Energy Corporation that the FTC modify a final consent order issued in 2001 that required El Paso to sell certain assets and enter other arrangements to settle the Commission’s challenge to its acquisition of Coastal Corporation.
In the request, which can be found on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release, El Paso has asked the FTC to remove the requirement that El Paso establish and maintain a $40 million “Development Fund.” Under the terms of the FTC’s Order, El Paso sold certain pipelines to Williams Field Services and established the required Fund for Williams to use to build a natural gas pipeline or related facility that would serve natural gas producers. Under the Commission’s Order, the Fund expires in 2021, and any unused portions are to be returned to El Paso.
According to El Paso’s request, changes within the industry after its merger, including improvements in drilling technology, have increased competition in the area covered by the Development Fund. Based on these changes, El Paso believes it should no longer be required to maintain the Fund, and has asked the FTC to remove that provision from the Final Order and return the $40 million to the company. El Paso states its belief that Williams has not used the Fund and supports the request to terminate it.
The FTC is seeking public comments on the request for 30 days, until August 2, 2010, after which it will decide whether to approve it. Comments should be sent to: FTC Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20580. (FTC Docket No. C-3996; the staff contact is Daniel P. Ducore, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2526; see press release dated January 29, 2001 at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2001/01/elpasocoastal.shtm.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.