BP Denies US Allegations of Fixing Natural Gas Market

From BBC

US regulators have told BP to respond to allegations of natural gas market manipulation and threatened the firm with fines of close to $29m (£19m).

BP has 30 days to respond, but said the allegations were “without merit”.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Enforcement alleges the offences took place in the Houston Ship Channel from September to November 2008.

FERC first posted the allegations in 2011 and is stepping up its inquiry.

Fraud allegation

The regulator claims that BP’s Texas-based Southeast Gas Trading desk bought and sold physical gas at the Houston Ship Channel and Katy gas trading hubs, in a way designed to increase the value of BP’s financial position.

Specifically, it “alleges that BP accomplished its fraud by using transportation capacity between the two markets uneconomically”.

But Geoff Morrell, BP vice-president and head of US communications, said: “BP natural gas traders did not engage in any market manipulation in late 2008.

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