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- New regulations gradually create a market-pricing system for natural gas. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 436 (1985) provides blanket approval for pipelines that choose to become common carriers transporting gas intrastate. FERC Order 451 (1986) deregulates the wellhead, and FERC Order 490 (April 1988) authorises producers, pipelines, and others to terminate gas sales or purchases without seeking prior FERC approval. As a result of these orders, more than 75% of gas sales are conducted through the spot market, and unprecedented market volatility exists.
- Houston Natural Gas, run by Kenneth Lay merges with Internorth, a natural gas company in Omaha, Nebraska, to form an interstate and intrastate natural gas pipeline with approximately 37,000 miles of pipeline.
- Lay is appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of the combined company. The company chooses the name "Enron" after rejecting "Enteron"
- Company moves headquarters to Houston, where Ken Lay lives. Enron is both a natural oil and gas company.
- Enron's vision: To become the premier natural-gas pipeline in America
- Enron Oil, Enron's flourishing petroleum marketing operation, reports loss of $85 million in 8-K filings. True loss of $142 – $190 million is concealed until 1993. Two top Enron Oil executives in Valhalla plead guilty to defraud and to filing false tax returns. One serves time in prison.
- The Company's major strategy shift - to pursue unregulated markets in addition to its regulated pipeline business- is decided in a gathering that became known as the Come to Jesus meeting.
- Enron enters UK energy market. Becomes first U.S. company to construct power plant, Teesside in Britain after electric industry there is privatised.
- Enron launches Gas Bank, that will be run by CEO Jeff Skilling in 1990, which allows gas producers and wholesale buyers to purchase firm gas supplies and hedge the price risk at the same time.
- Enron begins offering financing to oil and gas producers.
- Transwestern Pipeline Company, owned by Enron, is the first merchant pipeline in the United States to stop selling gas and become a transportation only pipeline.
- Enron launches plan to expand U.S. natural gas business abroad
- Enron becomes a natural gas market maker in the United States. Begins trading futures and options on the New York Mercantile Exchange and over the counter market using financial instruments such as swaps and options.
- Ken Lay and Rich Kinder hire Jeff Skilling from McKinsey & Company to become Chief Executive Officer of Enron Gas Services, Enron's "Gas Bank". Enron Gas Services eventually morphs into Enron Capital and Trade Resources (ECT).
- Jeff Skilling hires Andrew Fastow from the banking industry; he starts as account director and quickly rises within the ranks of ECT
- Enron adopts mark to market accounting practices, reporting income and value of assets at their replacement cost
- Rebecca Mark becomes Chairman and CEO of Enron Development Corp., a unit formed to pursue international markets
- Andy Fastow forms the first of many off-balance-sheet partnerships for legitimate purposes. Later, off-balance-sheet partnerships and transactions will become a way for money losing ventures to be concealed and income reporting to be accelerated.