Part 2 Consents
Energy companies Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (“ETE”), and The Williams Companies, Inc., agreed to divest Williams’ interest in an interstate natural gas pipeline to proceed with ETE’s proposed acquisition of Williams. According to the complaint, the proposed merger, if consummated, would have reduced competition in the market for “firm” – i.e., guaranteed – pipeline capacity to deliver natural gas to points within the Florida peninsula. In Florida, natural gas is extensively used for electric power generation, making competitive access to constant and reliable sources of supply critical. The complaint alleges that absent a remedy, the acquisition would eliminate the competition between FGT and Gulfstream, which historically has enabled Florida customers to obtain lower transportation rates and better terms of service. It also would have resulted in a pipeline monopoly at many natural gas delivery points within the peninsula. The complaint also alleges that the proposed merger likely would harm future competition from a new interstate pipeline, Sabal Trail Transmission LLC, which is scheduled to start transporting natural gas to parts of the Florida peninsula in May 2017. According to the complaint, Sabal Trail and its future customers will rely on leased access to a segment of the Transco Pipeline, a Williams-owned, large interstate pipeline, for natural gas supply. The complaint alleges that the newly merged company would have an incentive to deny Sabal Trail additional capacity expansions on Transco because ETE’s FGT pipeline is a closer competitor to Sabal Trail than was Williams’ Gulfstream pipeline.