Andersen Resigns as Auditor of Two Energy Firms

Updated from 3:59 p.m. EST

Arthur Andersen resigned as the auditor of EOTT Energy Partners ( EOT), part of the Enron ( ENRNQ) empire, a development that might cause the oil marketer to delay filing its annual report.

Andersen didn't indicate that the withdrawal related to any disagreements concerning financial statement disclosure, accounting principles or practices or any other procedures. EOTT said Andersen hasn't withdrawn any of its opinions expressed in the reports for any periods for which audits were conducted. EOTT also said it wasn't aware of any disagreements with Andersen concerning accounting issues.

EOTT said the resignation seems to have come about because of Andersen's professional standards concerns, including auditor independence issues, relating to recent events involving Enron.

After the market closed, Northern Border Partners ( NBP), which owns a 70% general partner interest in a natural gas pipeline, said that Andersen resigned as its auditor, again citing worries about independence. Northern Border retained KPMG as its auditor.

EOTT's general partner, EOTT Energy Corp., is a wholly owned unit of Enron, though it isn't a part of Enron's bankruptcy proceedings.

The timing of Andersen's resignation, and the fact that EOTT will now have to find a new auditor, could force the company to delay filing its audited financial statements for 2001. EOTT is talking to major accounting firms and plans to name a new auditor as soon as possible.

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