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Joint venture NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC, and its member companies, DTE Energy Company and Enbridge Inc., settled Federal Trade Commission charges that the joint venture’s acquisition of an Ohio pipeline would likely harm competition to provide natural gas pipeline transportation in a three-county area that includes Toledo, Ohio. The complaint alleged that NEXUS’s purchase of Generation from North Coast Gas Transmission LLC (“North Coast”) and several other owners is anticompetitive due to a non-compete clause that keeps North Coast from competing to provide natural gas pipeline transportation, for three years after the acquisition closes, in parts of the Ohio counties of Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood. The 2019 consent agreement preserved competition by requiring the parties to eliminate the non-compete clause from the sales agreement. Also, absent prior Commission approval, Nexus, DTE, and Enbridge were barred from participating in a written or oral agreement that restricts competition between any of them and another provider of natural gas pipeline transportation in the Ohio counties of Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood. On Sept. 24, 2021, the FTC announced a petition from DTE to reopen and modify the 2019 order. The Commission announced approval of the order modification on November 24, 2021.
FTC Requests Public Comment on DTE Energy Company’s Application to Modify Final Order Settling Competition Concerns Related to Natural Gas Joint Venture
Statement Regarding Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s Termination of Acquisition of Dominion Energy, Inc.’s Questar Pipeline in Central Utah
Concurring Statement of Commissioner Christine S. Wilson in the Matter of DTE Energy Co., Enbridge Inc., and NEXUS Gas Transmission LLC
Joint Statement of Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter in the Matter of DTE Energy/Generation Pipeline
FTC Approves Final Order Preserving Competition in 3 Natural Gas Production Areas off the Coast of Louisiana
Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy Corp agreed to settle FTC charges that their proposed merger likely would harm competition in the market for pipeline transportation of natural gas in three production areas off the coast of Louisiana. According to the FTC’s complaint, the merger likely would reduce natural gas pipeline competition in three offshore natural gas producing areas in the Gulf of Mexico—Green Canyon, Walker Ridge and Keathley Canyon—leading to higher prices for natural gas pipeline transportation from those areas. In portions of the affected areas, the FTC alleged, the merging parties’ pipelines are the two pipelines located closest to certain wells and, as a result, are likely the lowest cost pipeline transportation options for those wells. According to the FTC, the merger would give Canada-based Enbridge an ownership interest in both pipelines, which will give it access to competitively sensitive information of the Discovery Pipeline, as well as significant voting rights over the Discovery Pipeline. Access to its competitor’s competitively sensitive information and significant voting rights would provide Enbridge with the incentive and opportunity to unilaterally increase pipeline transportation costs for natural gas producers located in the affected areas. The exchange of information also may increase the likelihood of tacit or explicit anticompetitive coordination between the Walker Ridge Pipeline and the Discovery Pipeline. Under the settlement with the FTC, the companies have agreed to conditions that will preserve competition in those areas.The consent agreement requires Enbridge to establish firewalls to limit its access to non-public information about the Discovery Pipeline. Board members of the Spectra-affiliated companies that hold a 40 percent share in the Discovery Pipeline must recuse themselves from any vote involving the pipeline, with two limited exceptions. Also under the order, Enbridge must notify the Commission before acquiring an ownership interest in any natural gas pipeline operating in the Green Canyon, Walker Ridge and Keathley Canyon areas, or increasing the 40 percent ownership interest of Spectra affiliate DCP Midstream Partners, LP in the Discovery Pipeline.
FTC Closes Investigation into Merger of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P., and The Williams Companies, Inc.
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.
FTC Approves Kinder Morgan, Inc.'s Request to Modify Final Decision and Order, Divestiture Agreement Related to 2012 Acquisition of El Paso Corp.
The FTC required Kinder Morgan, Inc., one of the largest U.S. transporters of natural gas and other energy products, to sell three natural gas pipelines and other related assets in the Rocky Mountain region as part of a settlement resolving charges that Kinder Morgan's $38 billion acquisition of El Paso Corporation would be anticompetitive. According to the FTC's complaint, Kinder Morgan's proposed acquisition of El Paso would harm competition in the markets for pipeline transportation and processing of natural gas in the Rocky Mountain gas production areas in and around Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Utah.
FTC Seeks Public Comment on Kinder Morgan, Inc.’s Request to Modify Final Decision and Order, Divestiture Agreement Related to 2012 Acquisition of El Paso Corp.
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