* German utility says to tap into global energy trends
* Hires U.S. trading unit's manager for Q4
* Seeks to originate more coal, LNG trade in Singapore
By Vera Eckert
DUESSELDORF, Germany, April 17 German utility
E.ON SE will seek more energy trading opportunities
out of the United States and Asia from its soon-to-be created
Merchant Trading unit, aiming for growth in an increasingly
"We will be taking our European business further because
energy markets are globalising," Klaus Schaefer, head of the
unit, told a briefing on Wednesday at the company's Duesseldorf
"We will be trading out of Chicago by year-end and branching
out into more Asian coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG)."
E.ON has for the past 18 months been pursuing the merger of
its former Ruhrgas subsidiary with energy trading into one
division as part of its efforts to streamline activities and cut
costs. The combined business will become operational on May 2.
Schaefer said trading prospects in the United States and
Canada had improved since the shale gas glut, which has pushed
more U.S. coal exports into the world market. U.S. gas exports
may start to flow on a large scale from around 2017, he said.
"We wouldn't want to miss that story," said Gareth Griffith,
chief commercial officer of E.ON Merchant Trading.
These efforts would tie in with E.ON's globally growing LNG
landing and gasification terminals, which in Europe include
activities in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
The European LNG market would be "difficult in the next few
years", but potentially improving dramatically later this
decade, Schaefer said.
Also, increasing renewable energy volumes within the E.ON
U.S. portfolio needed managing from inside the country.
E.ON said in February it was hiring traders in the United
States and Schaefer put the likely number of hires at five.
E.ON Global Commodities (EGC) - which includes the Merchant
Trading operation - has named Ben Pratt as managing director in
Chicago. U.S. native Pratt joins from Castleton Commodities
International for the fourth quarter 2013 start.
As for the Singapore office, there would be more trade
origination sought to respond to growing Chinese and Indian
energy demand, Schaefer said.
There are also gaps in the European traded power and gas
market left by banks which began retreating last year as they
decided to discontinue operations ahead of tighter regulation.
E.ON would step into some of these vacuums, said Christopher
Delbrueck, chief financial officer of EGC.
The E.ON group's power trade volumes in 2012 fell 23.5
percent year-on-year to 1.4 billion kilowatt hours and those of
gas declined 1 percent to 2.5 billion kWh, its financial report
for the year showed.