|ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS L P filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
FERC Regulation – Natural Gas Pipelines and Related Matters
Certain of our intrastate natural gas pipelines, including our Texas Intrastate System and our Acadian Gas System, are subject to regulation by the FERC under the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 (“NGPA”), in connection with the transportation and storage services they provide pursuant to Section 311 of the NGPA. Under Section 311 of the NGPA, and the FERC’s implementing regulations, an intrastate pipeline may transport gas “on behalf of” an interstate pipeline company or any local distribution company served by an interstate pipeline, without becoming subject to the FERC’s broader regulatory authority under Natural Gas Act of 1938 (“NGA”). These services must be provided on an open and nondiscriminatory basis, and the rates charged for these services may not exceed a “fair and equitable” level as determined by the FERC in periodic rate proceedings.
We believe that the transportation rates currently charged and the services performed by our natural gas pipelines are all in accordance with the applicable requirements of the NGPA and FERC regulations. However, we cannot predict the rates we will be allowed to charge in the future for transportation services by our pipelines.
The resale of natural gas in interstate commerce is subject to FERC oversight. In order to increase transparency in natural gas markets, the FERC has established rules requiring the annual reporting of data regarding natural gas sales. The FERC has also established regulations that prohibit energy market manipulation. The Federal Trade Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) have also issued rules and regulations prohibiting energy market manipulation. We believe that our gas sales activities are in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.
A violation of the FERC’s regulations may subject us to civil penalties, suspension or loss of authorization to perform services or make sales of natural gas, disgorgement of unjust profits or other appropriate non-monetary remedies imposed by the FERC. Pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the potential civil and criminal penalties for any violation of the NGPA, or any rules, regulations or orders of the FERC, were increased to up to $1 million per day per violation.
State Regulation of Pipeline Transportation Services
Transportation services rendered by our intrastate liquids and natural gas pipelines are subject to regulation in many states, including Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Although the applicable state statutes and regulations vary widely, they generally require that intrastate pipelines publish tariffs setting forth all rates, rules and regulations applying to intrastate service, and generally require that pipeline rates and practices be reasonable and nondiscriminatory.
Federal Regulation of Marine Operations
The operation of tow boats, barges and marine equipment create maritime obligations involving property, personnel and cargo under General Maritime Law. These obligations create a variety of risks including, among other things, the risk of collision and allision, which may precipitate claims for personal injury, cargo, contract, pollution, third party claims and property damages to vessels and facilities.
We are subject to the Jones Act and other federal laws that restrict maritime transportation between U.S. departure and destination points to vessels built and registered in the U.S. and owned and manned by U.S. citizens. As a result of this ownership requirement, we are responsible for monitoring the foreign ownership of our common units and other partnership interests. If we do not comply with such requirements, we would be prohibited from operating our vessels in U.S. coastwise trade, and under certain circumstances we would be deemed to have undertaken an unapproved foreign transfer, resulting in severe penalties, including permanent loss of U.S. coastwise trading rights for our vessels, fines or forfeiture of the vessels. In addition, the USCG and American Bureau of Shipping maintain the most stringent regime of vessel inspection in the world, which tends to result in higher regulatory compliance costs for U.S.-flagged operators than for owners of vessels registered under foreign flags of convenience. Our marine operations are also subject to the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, which under certain conditions would allow the U.S. government to requisition our marine assets in the event of a national emergency.