Energy Transfer Faces Allegations of Anti-Competitive Practices in Louisiana Pipeline Dispute

(P&GJ) — A legal clash is unfolding in Louisiana as Energy Transfer LP, a major natural gas pipeline developer, stands accused of engaging in "anticompetitive" actions, Bloomberg reported. The dispute centers around Energy Transfer's denial of three projects seeking to cross its pipelines, leading to a legal battle impacting over $2 billion in energy infrastructure.

An affiliate of Momentum Midstream, New Generation Gas Gathering LLC, has filed a lawsuit in a Louisiana district court, alleging that Energy Transfer's refusal to allow the crossing is impeding its $1.6 billion project.

According to Bloomberg, the accusation contends that Energy Transfer's actions violate Louisiana law by engaging in "blatant and open" anti-competitive behavior, potentially allowing the company to control 80% of the relevant market if the Gulf Run expansion proceeds without competition.

This legal confrontation is part of a larger trend, with three developers, including Momentum, challenging Energy Transfer in Louisiana's courts. The developers argue that Energy Transfer's claims of exclusive rights to key parts of the state could disrupt the gas pipeline industry, increase costs for consumers, and potentially impact America's standing as a major energy exporter. The case has garnered the attention of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is poised to become the state's next governor.

Energy Transfer, led by billionaire Kelcy Warren, has faced criticism for its aggressive negotiating culture and allegations of "authorized monopoly abuse", according to Bloomberg. The company has previously won a case against DT Midstream, another pipeline company, but the decision is under appeal. Energy Transfer has also sought restraining orders against affiliates of Williams Cos. and DT Midstream for two projects, citing safety concerns and exclusive land rights.

While Energy Transfer contends that the projects sought by Williams and Momentum lacked necessary information and disregarded existing contracts, opponents argue that these new developments are essential to meet the growing demand for gas from the Haynesville shale formation. The legal battles add to the challenges Energy Transfer has faced in the pipeline industry, including delays and disputes with its own projects, such as the Dakota Access crude pipeline.

Representatives from Energy Transfer, Momentum, and DT Midstream declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. The legal wrangling highlights the complexities and controversies surrounding the expansion of energy infrastructure in Louisiana, with potential repercussions for the state's energy sector and national energy independence.

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