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Our History

Our History

Williams traces its roots to 1908 with two brothers’ construction projects in Fort Smith, Ark. Within a few years Miller and David Williams were building cross-country natural gas and petroleum pipelines. By the time the brothers relocated to Tulsa in 1919, they had a reputation for doing a job on time and on budget.

For more than 60 years, the company did business as Williams Brothers. We adopted The Williams Companies, Inc. name in the 1970s, reflecting our diverse businesses. That remains our legal name today, even though we began going by the simplified name “Williams” in 1997.

In 1966, Williams paid $287 million for the country’s largest petroleum products pipeline (known as Great Lakes Pipe Line Company). The new company laid the cornerstone for the modern-era Williams.

The company began assembling its nationwide system of interstate natural gas pipelines in 1982 with the purchase of Northwest Energy Company.

Williams purchased Transco Energy Company in 1995, expanding our natural gas transportation system to the East Coast. This acquisition established Williams as one of the largest-volume transporters of natural gas in the United States.

Williams’ ingenuity provided the foundation for modern-day telecom networks when it ran fiber-optic cable through decommissioned pipelines. In fact, the company built two coast-to-coast telecom networks. The first one became the fourth-largest U.S. long distance network and was sold to LDDS in 1995. The second, a 33,000-mile network, was spun off as a separate company in 2001.

In 2001, the acquisition of Barrett Resources added significant natural gas reserves and increased Williams’ exploration and production profile.

More recent additions to our energy profile include expanding our presence in the Marcellus Shale basin in the northeast. Williams has had a pipeline presence in the area for more than 50 years, making the area a perfect example of both our deeply-rooted history and opportunity-rich future.

On Dec. 1, 2011, Williams’ board of directors approved the spinoff of Williams’ exploration and production business, WPX Energy, Inc.