Platts Says Some Companies Stopped Sharing Gas-Prices

(Corrects story published May 9 to delete reference to Bloomberg’s effort to reach Argus by e-mail in fifth paragraph.)

Platts, the energy information provider owned by McGraw-Hill Cos., said that some companies have stopped providing its reporters with the natural gas pricing data it uses to compile its indexes.

“While there has been drop-off in data from some market principals, we have also gained a number of new sources and our ability to assess market value has not been hindered,” Kathleen Tanzy, director of communications at Platts in New York, said in an e-mailed statement. “Platts receives information from many market participants, including aggregators such as brokers.”

Platts’ competitor ICIS, a unit of Reed Elsevier Plc, said last month that it may drop reporter-led surveys after some clients said they mistrust the company’s assessments. It will introduce closing-price natural gas indexes based on executed trades to run alongside some closing index evaluations in a testing phase for six months, it said following a consultation that ended March 15.

The Financial Times reported yesterday that energy companies including Statoil ASA (STL), trading houses and banks have stopped submitting quotes to price-reporting agencies.

ICIS did not immediately respond to messages left with a public relations representative and marketing manager. Simon Smith, a head of government and regulatory affairs at Argus Media Ltd., which also offers gas pricing indexes, didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment.

“The assessment process is robust and considers completed transactions, bids and offers,” Tanzy said. “Platts publishes an end-of-day, market-closing value. We are not at this time contemplating an all-day index.”

ICIS Consultation

ICIS began its consultation in the wake of accusations last year by Seth Freedman, a former reporter with the company, that inadequate training of staff left the pricing mechanisms for the $1 trillion European gas market vulnerable to manipulation. ICIS said at the time its employees get “extensive training” that equips them to challenge the information they receive. ICIS reported in September what it described as irregular trades to regulators. Freedman notified the Financial Services Authority in October.

Among the public responses, Statoil said that the current methodology used by ICIS “allows for the potential use of incorrectly reported trades to be factored into the index calculations, which can result in inaccurate prices being published.”

Centrica Plc (CNA) proposed using daily cleared natural gas auctions as more transparent and reliable than over-the-counter assessments. RWE AG said it doesn’t always have confidence in ICIS gas-price assessments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Brown in London at mbrown42@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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