Government & Regulatory

Thursday, 05/17/2018

Two months ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shook up master limited partnerships (MLPs) and their investors by deciding that income taxes would no longer be factored into the cost-based tariff rates of MLP-owned pipelines. We said then that there was no need to panic — that all this will take time to play out, and that the end results may not be as widespread or dire as some feared. Today, we provide an update, dig into FERC’s other actions on changes in income taxes, and discuss the phenomenon known as “FERC Time.”

Sunday, 03/18/2018

The aftershocks are still being felt from last Thursday’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that interstate gas and liquids pipelines’ cost-based tariff rates can’t include anything for income taxes if the pipelines are owned by master limited partnerships (MLPs) — and most are. Many investors did freak out — no other phrase sums it up better — when they heard that news. Share prices for midstream companies plummeted in midday trading, and we imagine that many angry calls were made by investors to their financial advisers. “Why didn’t we know about this?!” In fact, although this proceeding had been simmering for a while, FERC’s action was harsher than expected by most experts. But the impact of the change is likely to be less far-reaching than the Wall Street frenzy would have you believe, at least for most MLPs. And, by the way, the issue at hand — whether and how to factor in taxes in calculating MLPs’ cost-of-service-based rates for interstate pipelines –– has been around for decades. Today, we discuss FERC’s new policy statement on the treatment of income taxes and what it means for natural gas, crude oil, natural gas liquid (NGL) and refined product pipeline rates; and for investors in MLPs that own and operate the systems.

Sunday, 11/26/2017

Last Wednesday, November 22, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acted on a Petition for Declaratory Order (PDO) by Magellan Midstream Partners in which the midstreamer asked for FERC’s blessing to establish a marketing affiliate to “buy, sell and ship” crude oil on pipelines owned by Magellan as well as pipes owned by other companies. Today Magellan does not have such an affiliate, although many of its competitors do. Most of those competitors use their affiliates to generate incremental throughput on their pipelines, sometimes by doing transactions that result in losses for the marketing affiliate, but that are still profitable for the overall company because the marketing arm pays its affiliated pipeline the published tariff transportation rate. FERC denied Magellan’s request, coming down hard on such transactions as “rebates” specifically prohibited by the law governing interstate oil pipelines. In today’s blog, we take a preliminary look at FERC’s Magellan order and what it could mean for U.S. crude oil markets.

Monday, 03/07/2016

Energy markets are in turmoil.   Prices have been crushed, energy producers are under stress, and consumers are enjoying a bonanza of savings.  In the midst of this turmoil, the elections are on the horizon.  The stage is set for 2016-17 to be transformative years for the energy industry. But what kind of transformation will it be?  Well, it depends.  On lots of things. Prices.  Supply/demand.  OPEC/no-OPEC. And of course, the outcome of U.S. elections.  The elections, and the positions (or lack thereof) taken by candidates during the campaign will be bellwethers of the market the industry will face over the next two years and beyond.  Today in Brace for Impact - of the 2016 Elections on Energy Policies, Politics and Markets we set the stage for a new kind of conference being hosted by RBN, Sutherland, and Goldwyn Global Strategies on May 10th in Houston.  Warning, today’s blog is an advertorial for the conference. 

Monday, 02/18/2013

 

On January 1st, 2013, California’s cap-and-trade program for Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) went live and West Coast energy markets entered a whole new world.  Wholesale electricity prices in California increased 20% as a result and other energy markets have felt the impact.  For example, the new rules pushed up the average cost of refining oil by $0.78/bbl.  For companies subject to the regulations, the bottom line is that if you generate GHG, you pay.  But exactly who pays, how much you pay, and when you pay are all subject to a dizzying array of rules and regulations.  Today we’ll navigate the turbulent and uncharted seas of California cap-and-trade markets.