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The Williams Energy (also know as Williams Companies, Inc.) is an energy company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its core business is natural gas exploration, production, processing, and transportation, with additional petroleum and electricity generation assets. A Fortune 500 company, its common stock is a component of the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Utility Average.
It was founded as Williams Brothers in 1908 by Miller Williams and David Williams in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and soon expanded to building nationwide pipelines for natural gas and petroleum. The company relocated to Tulsa in 1919.
The company went public in 1957 under the Williams Brothers name. As it diversified in the 1970s, it was renamed The Williams Companies, Inc. Since 1997, their brand identity has been simplified to "Williams".
In 1966, Williams bought the then-largest petroleum products pipeline in America, known as the Great Lakes Pipe Line Company, for about $287 million. In 1982, it expanded into natural gas transportation with the purchase of Northwest Energy Company, and extended their reach to the East Coast with the 1995 purchase of Transco Energy Company.
In 2001, Williams acquired Barrett Resources, which provided them with additional national gas reserves.
In 2002, the company found itself in financial distress due to changed market conditions and the large debt of its subsidiary Williams Communications Group. The company obtained and paid off an emergency high interest loan from Warren Buffett to stay out of bankruptcy, and redirected its focus toward natural gas production, processing, and transportation as well as increasing its resource holdings. One of the moves it made around that time (2004) was the sale of 3 of Canada's largest natural gas treatment plants (extracts natural gas liquids from it) to Inter Pipeline Fund for US$540 million.
In 2010, the company underwent a major restructuring that included a reorganization of its extensive pipeline holdings in Williams Partners LP. On October 2010, Williams and Williams Partners L.P. announced that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Malcolm will retire at the end of the year. The Board of Directors at Williams said it has elected Alan Armstrong to succeed Malcolm as CEO effective January 3, 2011. Armstrong has served as senior vice president of Williams since 2002.
On Feb. 16, 2011 Williams' board of directors has approved pursuing a plan to separate the company's businesses into two stand-alone, publicly traded corporations. The plan calls for Williams to separate its exploration and production business via an initial public offering (IPO) in third-quarter 2011 of up to 20 percent of its interest and, in 2012, a tax-free spinoff to Williams shareholders of its remaining interest.
The company helped to get the modern telecommunications industry off the ground by running fiber optic cable through its decommissioned pipelines. It built two nationwide networks, which have since become their own companies; the first was sold in 1995 to Long Distance Discount Services (which would become WorldCom & then MCI Inc. and the second was spun off in 2001 as Williams Communications (which would become WilTel Communications and later consolidate into Level 3 Communications).
Articles and resources
- Alaska gas liquids at forefront of Alberta straddle-plant deal (2004-07-08).
- Rod Walton, "CEO of Williams Cos. to retire: Malcolm gets praise for company turnaround", Tulsa World, October 13, 2010.
- Williams (WMB) CEO Malcolm to Retire; Armstrong Named Successor,, October 12, 2010
- Williams to Pursue Separating Into Two Stand-Alone, Publicly Traded Companies; Boosts Dividend 60%, , Feb. 16, 2011
Related SourceWatch articles
- Fracking studies
- Coalbed methane
- Marcellus Shale
- Natural gas as an alternative to coal
- Natural gas transmission leakage rates
- Shale formations in the United States
- For a full list of SourceWatch articles on fracking, click here.
- Official site
- Hoovers summary
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with John Williams. First person interview conducted with John Williams on December 15, 2009. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.