Journal Record Staff Reporter
Competition in the natural gas gathering business is becoming
evermore fierce as segregation of interstate pipeline functions
nears fruition, giving the bigger underground thoroughfares
common carrier status.
"The competition in this business is getting just wild," said
Gary C. Lobaugh, corporate relations representative for GPM Gas
Corp. of Houston, the operating arm of Phillips Gas Co., owned by
Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville.
The so-called federal deregulation of secondary interstate
pipeline services has sparked some concern about states picking
up where the federal regulators left off. In Oklahoma, for
example, a bill was enacted last year by the Legislature to give
producers a venue for complaints about gas gathering rates
charged by pipelines.
Comments are due next week with the Oklahoma Natural Gas
Policy Commission on the issue of state regulation of gas
gathering lines. GPM Gas, whose assets are concentrated in
Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, is preparing comments, Lobaugh
"If somebody is charging rates that are out of line, the
producer should have a forum," to correct the abuse, said Jim
Kevra, vice president of Centana Energy Corp. of Houston, a
subsidiary formed in March by the interstate pipeline Panhandle
"We are concerned that the burden of proof will be laid on the
pipeline. I don't think there's much abuse going on right now,
though. I think we're most concerned about a level playing
"Right now, there's no regulation at all on the interstate
gatherers, you see," Kevra said of gathering firms not affiliated
with interstate pipelines, like GPM Gas. "But, Panhandle is still
regulated by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)."
Gas gathering historically was an incidental sideline for
pipelines and local distribution companies, the gas utilities.
In April 1992, FERC ordered separation of the various segments
of interstate pipelines _ transportation, storage, gathering and
marketing. Before FERC Order 636, which is to be in full
implementation by year end, pipelines offered the services as a
Under the new rule _ the final phase of open access that began
in the mid-1980s _ interstate pipelines must provide their
affiliates and outside shippers access to interstate lines
indiscriminately. All other business segments of the pipeline
must be operated separately.
With the change, sights are being set on secondary services as
new moneymaking sources. Gas gathering is a natural target since
it is what connects a gas well to the interstate pipeline that
carries gas to market; storage demand is rising, but not all
participants in the market need or want it. …