FERC Order 704 (which has been clarified in Order 704-A and 704-B) established annual reporting requirements for natural gas wholesale market participants to be provided in FERC Form No. 552.  The Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) now requires natural gas market participants that buy or sell 2,200,000 MMbtus or more (measured in the course of a year) of natural gas at wholesale to submit annually certain volume and other information regarding their wholesale, physical natural gas transactions for the previous calendar year.  The first report under FERC’s new Form No. 552 is due on May 1, 2009 (for transactions in 2008). 

In Order 704-A, FERC clarified that natural gas market participants must report all bilateral, non-affiliate, arm’s-length wholesale, physical next-day or next-month natural gas transactions as defined in Form No. 552 (Reportable Transactions) that use or refer to a price index, or contribute to or could contribute to a price index (i.e., all Reportable Transactions at all trading locations, regardless of whether the location currently is designated by an index developer as a reporting location and regardless of whether the transactions actually were reported).  A reporting entity also is required to indicate whether it operates under a blanket sales certificate, reports price or other transaction data to an index publisher, and complies with the FERC’s Policy Statement on Electric and Natural Gas Price Indices (Policy Statement).  Order No. 704-A also clarifies that bundled retail transactions are not to be reported in FERC Form No. 552. 

Any market participant that buys less than 2,200,000 MMBtus and sells less than 2,200,000 MMBtus is not required to report, unless that market participant has a blanket certificate, in which case it must file a Form 552 indicating whether it reports to price index publishers and complies with FERC’s Policy Statement; however, it is not required to report aggregate volumes or transaction data.

In Order 704-B, FERC clarified that a transaction is excluded from reporting if the seller is an LDC, the transaction bundles commodity and transportation costs, the purchaser is a retail end-user and the transaction is priced at a state-approved tariff rate.  FERC’s approach under Form 552 was to set forth specific criteria for natural gas market participants to determine if individual transactions should be reported.  Specifically, FERC ruled as follows:

Form No. 552 requires reporting of volumes associated with transactions that utilize, contribute to, or could contribute to a price index.  Transactions made by marketers under state-sponsored retail access programs may or may not be reportable, depending on the terms of the transactions at issue.  If a particular retail marketer transaction does not utilize a price index, is not reported to an index publisher, and could not contribute to a price index even if reported to a publisher, then the transaction would not be reportable on Form No. 552.  However, not all retail marketer transactions are structured in such a manner.  We therefore decline to modify Form No. 552 to provide a blanket exclusion for all retail marketer transactions to end-users as suggested by NEM and Gas South.  We urge all potential Respondents to review the terms of Form No. 552 and our orders to determine whether specific transactions are reportable.  As we discussed in Order No. 704-A, Respondents may contact our new compliance help desk for direction regarding specific transactions once they begin to complete Form No. 552.  Alternately, Respondents may contact Commission staff by electronic mail with questions regarding Form No. 552.

Order 704-B also clarified the reporting requirements for cash-out and fixed-price transactions:

[C]ash-out, balancing, and in-kind transactions are reportable on Form No. 552 if they rely on, contribute to, or could contribute to a price index.  Form No. 552 is amended to provide that Fixed Price transactions are reportable only if they are for Next-Day Delivery or Next-Month Delivery.  Index-based transactions are reportable even if they are not for Next-Day Delivery or Next-Month Delivery.  This clarification is consistent with our determination in Order No. 704 that one of the goals of Form No. 552 is to allow the Commission to “not only understand the transactions used to formulate price indices; it is to understand how influential price indices are in the overall transacting of natural gas in U.S. wholesale markets.”  Further, we clarify that cash-out, balancing, and in-kind volumes are reportable on specific lines of Form No. 552 depending upon the substance of the underlying transaction.  For example, cash-out transactions that utilize a Next-Day Delivery gas price index would be reportable on lines 1 and 3 of page 4 (Purchase and Sales Information). If a cash-out transaction utilizes a Next-Month Delivery price index, then the volumes associated with the cash-out would be reportable on page 4 (Purchase and Sales Information), lines 1 and 5.

As stated, the first submission of Form No.552 is due May 1, 2009.  FERC is presently updating Form No. 552, as reflected in Attachment A of Order 704-B, to permit electronic filing.  Once updated, the revised FERC Form No. 552 will be available here