Oneok operates gas utilities in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas that serve over 2 million customers; it also has a 46% stake in a Master Limited Partnership involved in midstream natural gas operations like gathering and pipeline transportation. As General Partner of the MLP, Oneok's income will grow as the partnership's income does, while the company's 46% limited stake gives it a steady periodic cash flow. Furthermore, being part of an MLP allows Oneok to avoid taxes on its midstream income, giving it the ability to spend more on its pipelines business through acquisitions; for example, in October 2007 the MLP purchased a 1,627 mile pipeline from Kinder Morgan that spans from Kansas to Chicago.
Oneok's gas utilities are subject to stringent state regulation, designed to prevent them from taking advantage of the natural monopolies afforded to them by the high cost of gas distribution infrastructure. Furthermore, this guarantees the company a profit, though it also prevents the utilities segment from having much growth opportunity. For this reason, Oneok is relying on its membership in the midstream MLP to provide revenue and income growth in the future. With no real utilities competition, Oneok competes through its MLP with pipeline operators like Kinder Morgan and Atmos Energy. I just want to say I am beginner to blnioggg and site-building and honestly savored you're website. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You surely come with tremendous posts. Appreciate it for sharing with us your website.
Oneok rearranged its business in 2006 by acquiring a 100% share as General Partner in Northern Border Partners (now Oneok Partners LP) and then selling its midstream segment to the partnership. Now, Oneok is a gas utilities company that is General Partner AND a 46% Limited Partner in a pipeline and storage partnership, not a holding company with multiple business segments.
Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) are partnerships in which Limited Partners provide capital and General Partners manage assets and operations. At the end of a given period, Limited Partners earn a set amount of money from the company's cash flow (like dividends) while the General Partner gets paid based on the performance of the MLP (like shares). MLPs have tax benefits, but they are also subject to certain requirements, the primary being that they must receive 90% of their cash from real estate, commodities, or natural resources. Natural gas transport is considered a commodity.
Since the company is both General and Limited Partner in the MLP, its benefits are twofold. First, it gives the company a steady source of income independent of market conditions or MLP performance, which can be returned to shareholders or recycled back into capital expenditures. Second, it gives Oneok the opportunity to grow as the MLP grows. Because government regulation keeps gas utilities from raising prices (and revenues) at will, while saturated utilities markets and high infrastructure costs prevent utilities from expanding via internal investment, Oneok's MLP offers it a growth opportunity that most gas utilities (especially the ones that are not involved in upstream oil and gas exploration) do not have.
Utilities tend to be highly regulated in the U.S., with the national government setting transmissions rates and state governments setting electric and gas distribution rates. These rules are designed to maintain profitability by establishing a set rate of return for the company and accessibility for the consumer. Regulation may often hold back utilities companies, like ONEOK, from achieving potential revenues and profitability by preventing them from charging delivery rates that the level of demand would really allow. ONEOK's utilities are allowed SFV rates which greatly mitigate these concerns. Also, ONEOK's utilities are allowed annual cost of service adjustments and performance based rates which maintain annual profitability levels. ONEOK's utilities are allowed to pass through incurred gas costs annually to their customers through purchase gas adjustment clauses. Therefore, volatility in commodity costs do not effect operating margins. Even though annual rate adjustments are allowed, the ONEOK utilities can still file formal applications in the applicable state bodies to increase rates. For the most part, regulators will only raise rates if the company can show that something, whether rising costs, increased investments, greater return requirements, or inflationary pressure, is causing their operating margins to be below those need to attract capital.
Natural gas is used most commonly in home heating systems, making its demand partially dependent on the temperature outside. First- and fourth-quarter revenues for Oneok tend to be higher than second- and third-quarter revenues because late fall through early spring are much colder than late spring through early fall. The company saw 2007 operating revenues of $3.8 billion (1Q), $2.9 billion (2Q), $2.8 billion (3Q), and $4 billion (4Q), effectively illustrating how colder temperatures lead to higher gas revenues. This temperature dependence also means that unusual seasonality has a real effect on the company's operations; warmer winters, a predicted outcome of global climate change, will damage the company's revenues by decreasing demand at a key part of the year.
Incidentally, the gas utilities demand cycle is exactly opposite that of electric utilities, who see higher demand in warmer months because air conditioning units are electrically powered.
Oneok is not a natural gas exploration and production company, so it must purchase the natural gas it sells from other companies. Natural gas prices are extremely volatile, fluctuating between $5/cf and $10/cf several times in the past three years; Oneok tries to hedge against these fluctuations by purchasing long-term supply contracts, but most E&P companies are loath to sell at fixed prices natural gas prices are trending upwards, though the company offers supply contracts through a competitive bidding process, keeping costs down. Furthermore, utilities regulations mean that Oneok cannot pass rising costs onto consumers, giving the company less control of its margins.
ONEOK is a transport and distribution company that acts as a utility in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. In the markets it serves, the company has little real competition thanks to the high cost of infrastructure installation; government regulation, however, keeps the company from charging the rates and turning the profits that would otherwise be expected of a monopolist that sells products with inelastic demand. On a larger scale, Oneok competes pipelines operators like Kinder Morgan and Atmos Energy. Other major gas utilities include:
|AGL Resources||Atmos Energy||Energen||Equitable Resources||National Fuel Gas Company||ONEOK||Sempra Energy||Southern Union Company||National Grid Transco|
|Total Revenue (Millions)||$2,494||$5,898||$1,435||$1,361||$2,039||$13,488||$11,438||$2,617||£8,778|
|Gas Delivered (Bcf)||319||297.3||82.7||49.5||38.98||176.55||N/A||56.2||N/A|
|Number of Utilities Customers (thousands)||2,271||3,187||451||274||725||2,050||N/A||552||11,571|