Fun with FERC Order 809 or “How to Put Two Shippers on One Contract” . . .

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued Order 809 for interstate pipelines. One of the components of the order was for pipelines to support the ability for a Firm transportation contract to have multiple shippers.  The good news is that the pipeline only has to support this ability IF shippers request the service.  The bad news is that the pipeline only has 60 days to implement the service once it is asked for.  This means that the pipeline has to be prepared to offer the service because I don’t know of many pipelines who can implement such a change in just 60 days.

So why on earth would you need two shippers in a contract?  I can imagine several scenarios where this could be advantageous.  For instance, if a shipper needs reliable firm service on an as-needed basis and can find another shipper, such as a marketer, to utilize the un-used firm.  The would give the first shipper the reliability that they need and give them an out for when that service is not needed without having to enter the Capacity Release race on a regular basis.  Another example may be where a shipper needs seasonal firm capacity but the pipeline doesn’t offer a program that meets their specific needs. In this case, the shipper could match up with another shipper that can handle the off-peak quantities and share the transportation obligation. There may even be credit advantages, though I may be stretching my imagination too far on that one.

So what does the FERC have to say about this?  In Order 809, there were very few specifics.  There were references to a number of pipelines already offering this capability and, via that reference, the FERC decided that the service requirement only applies to Firm transportation and implied that there would be an agent involved to manage the contractual relationship and pipeline interaction.

A pipeline could implement such that each shipper had nomination rights.  The pipeline could implement such that the agent is mandatory and the agent manages the different shippers.  In the example pipelines that I researched, it appeared that there was always an agent relationship and the agent was responsible for managing the transactions for the shippers. These pipelines implemented this service prior to Order 809.

Again, the FERC was silent on nominations, billing, quantity rights, and location rights in Order 809.  It did say that the financial responsibility was with both parties.  So, like Capacity Release, if the one party fails to perform, the second party is financially responsible.

If the pipeline implements this in the easiest way, with an agent, then the transaction datasets would be unaffected.  The only impact will be to be able to add two shippers and their separate terms onto one contract and to be able to post those separate terms in the Transactional Reporting requirements.

We have 75 days from the FERC issuance of Order 809 and then 60 days after a shipper issues a request for such a service.  The worst case scenario is that a pipeline would have to implement this on June 14th, 2015 – 75 days after Order 809 was issued. The best case is any 60 day period after June 14th.

Is this something where shippers can find value? Does it help producer services, electric generators or agents?  It will be interesting to see the filings for this requirement, in response to Order 809, and to see how many shippers utilize this offering.

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