U.K. oil giant, British Petroleum, on Monday said it would "vigorously defend" against charges by U.S. regulators that it manipulated natural gas markets and threatening up to USD 29 million in fines. According to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), BP manipulates the natural gas market in 2008, and ordered the firm to respond to charges that its Southeast Gas Trading office bought and sold physical gas at the Houston Ship Channel in a way design to increase the value of BP's financial position. "These allegations are without merit and we stand by what we previously disclosed publicly in February 2011 - that BP natural gas traders did not engage in any market manipulation in late 2008," BP spokesman Geoff Morrell said in a statement.
"BP is disappointed that the FERC has brought this action and we will vigorously defend against these allegations." The total fines include a penalty of USD 28 million and USD 800,000 in profits, plus interest, from the alleged trading scheme.
The firm paid an estimated USD 303 million to U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission in 2007 to settle allegations the company attempted to manipulate the propane market between 2003 and 2004.