Last week, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (ETP) informed that it has entered into a settlement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which had accused the natural gas and propane gas distributor of unfair trading activities during Hurricane Rita in 2005. However, the partnership did not disclose the terms of the agreement as it is still subject to approval by the federal agency.

The FERC had earlier alleged that Energy Transfer employed a complicated scheme to artificially suppress the price of physical natural gas at the Houston Ship Channel in September and November 2005, and then report the manipulated prices to a widely circulated trade magazine.

The FERC is claiming $69.9 million in disgorgement of profits, as well as interest, and $82 million in civil penalties associated with these market manipulation claims. At the time, Energy Transfer denied any wrongdoing.

We welcome the news of the settlement as we believe that prompt resolution of the issue is in the best interest of Energy Transfer’s customers and unitholders.

Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners L.P. is a master limited partnership owning and operating a diversified portfolio of energy assets. The partnership’s natural gas operations includes miles of natural gas gathering and transportation pipelines, natural gas treating and processing assets located in Texas and Louisiana, and three natural gas storage facilities located in Texas.

We currently rate Energy Transfer units as Underperform.
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