Enron began as a pipeline company in Houston in 1985. It profited by promising to deliver so many cubic feet of gas to a particular utility or business on a particular day at a market price.

That changed with the deregulation of electrical power markets, a change due in part to lobbying from senior Enron officials. Under the direction of former Chairman Kenneth L. Lay, Enron expanded into an energy broker, trading electricity and other commodities.