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UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Form 10-K
(Mark One)
þ
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017
 
OR
¨
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the transition period from                      to                     
Commission file number 1-4174
The Williams Companies, Inc.
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)
Delaware
 
73-0569878
(State or Other Jurisdiction of
Incorporation or Organization)
 
(IRS Employer
Identification No.)
 
 
 
One Williams Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
 
74172
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
 
(Zip Code)
918-573-2000
(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock, $1.00 par value
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes þ    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ¨    No  þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  þ    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).    Yes  þ    No  ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer þ
 
Accelerated filer  ¨
 
Non-accelerated filer  ¨
 
Smaller reporting company  ¨
 
Emerging growth company  ¨
 
 
 
 
(Do not check if a smaller  reporting company)
 
 
 
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes  ¨    No  þ
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates computed by reference to the price at which the common equity was last sold as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter was approximately $24,993,673,967.
The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common stock outstanding at February 19, 2018 was 827,327,336.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for the Registrant’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on May 10, 2018, are incorporated into Part III, as specifically set forth in Part III.
 



THE WILLIAMS COMPANIES, INC.
FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
Page
PART I
 
 
 
 
Item 1.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
 
 
 
 
PART II
 
 
 
 
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
 
 
 
PART III
 
 
 
 
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
 
 
 
PART IV
 
 
 
 
Item 15.
Item 16.



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DEFINITIONS
The following is a listing of certain abbreviations, acronyms and other industry terminology that may be used throughout this Annual Report.

Measurements:
Barrel: One barrel of petroleum products that equals 42 U.S. gallons
Bcf : One billion cubic feet of natural gas
Bcf/d: One billion cubic feet of natural gas per day
British Thermal Unit (Btu): A unit of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree
Fahrenheit
Dekatherms (Dth): A unit of energy equal to one million British thermal units
Mbbls/d: One thousand barrels per day
Mdth/d: One thousand dekatherms per day
MMcf/d: One million cubic feet per day
MMdth: One million dekatherms or approximately one trillion British thermal units
MMdth/d: One million dekatherms per day
Tbtu: One trillion British thermal units
Consolidated Entities:
Cardinal: Cardinal Gas Services, L.L.C.
Constitution: Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC
Gulfstar One: Gulfstar One LLC
Jackalope: Jackalope Gas Gathering Services, L.L.C.
Northwest Pipeline: Northwest Pipeline LLC
Transco: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC
WPZ: Williams Partners L.P.
Partially Owned Entities: Entities in which we do not own a 100 percent ownership interest and which, as of December 31, 2017, we account for as an equity-method investment, including principally the following:
Aux Sable: Aux Sable Liquid Products LP
Caiman II: Caiman Energy II, LLC
Discovery: Discovery Producer Services LLC
Gulfstream: Gulfstream Natural Gas System, L.L.C.
Laurel Mountain: Laurel Mountain Midstream, LLC
OPPL: Overland Pass Pipeline Company LLC
UEOM: Utica East Ohio Midstream LLC


2




Government and Regulatory:
EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
Exchange Act, the: Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended
FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
GAAP: Generally accepted accounting principles
IRS: Internal Revenue Service
SEC: Securities and Exchange Commission
Other:
ACMP: Access Midstream Partners, L.P. prior to its merger with Pre-Merger WPZ
Energy Transfer: Energy Transfer Equity, L.P.
ETC: Energy Transfer Corp LP
ETC Merger: Merger wherein Williams would have been merged into ETC
Fractionation: The process by which a mixed stream of natural gas liquids is separated into its constituent products,
such as ethane, propane, and butane
IDR: Incentive distribution right
LNG: Liquefied natural gas; natural gas which has been liquefied at cryogenic temperatures
Merger Agreement: Merger Agreement and Plan of Merger of Williams with Energy Transfer and certain of its
affiliates
MVC: Minimum volume commitment
NGLs: Natural gas liquids; natural gas liquids result from natural gas processing and crude oil refining and are
used as petrochemical feedstocks, heating fuels, and gasoline additives, among other applications
NGL margins:  NGL revenues less Btu replacement cost, plant fuel, transportation, and fractionation
Pre-merger WPZ: Williams Partners L.P. prior to its merger with ACMP
PDH facility:  Propane dehydrogenation facility
RGP Splitter:  Refinery grade propylene splitter
Throughput:  The volume of product transported or passing through a pipeline, plant, terminal, or other facility



The statements in this Annual Report that are not historical information, including statements concerning plans and objectives of management for future operations, economic performance or related assumptions, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements may be identified by various forms of words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “seeks,” “could,” “may,” “should,” “continues,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “might,” “goals,” “objectives,” “targets,” “planned,” “potential,” “projects,” “scheduled,” “will,” “assumes,” “guidance,” “outlook,” “in-service date,” or other similar expressions and other words and terms of similar meaning. Although we believe that our expectations regarding future events are based on reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that such expectations or assumptions will be achieved. Additional information regarding forward-looking statements and important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are described under Part I, Item 1A in this Annual Report.


3




PART I

Item 1. Business
In this report, Williams (which includes The Williams Companies, Inc. and, unless the context otherwise indicates, all of our subsidiaries) is at times referred to in the first person as “we,” “us” or “our.” We also sometimes refer to Williams as the “Company.”
WEBSITE ACCESS TO REPORTS AND OTHER INFORMATION
We file our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and other documents electronically with the SEC under the Exchange Act. You may read and copy any materials that we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. You may also obtain such reports from the SEC’s Internet website at www.sec.gov.
Our Internet website is http://investor.williams.com/. We make available, free of charge, through the Investors tab of our Internet website our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC. Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Ethics for Senior Officers, Board committee charters, and the Williams Code of Business Conduct are also available on our Internet website. We will also provide, free of charge, a copy of any of our corporate documents listed above upon written request to our Corporate Secretary, One Williams Center, Suite 4700, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74172.
GENERAL
We are an energy infrastructure company focused on connecting North America’s significant hydrocarbon resource plays to markets for natural gas and NGLs. Our operations are located principally in the United States.
As of December 31, 2017, our interstate gas pipelines and midstream interests were largely held through our significant investment in WPZ. We own the general partner interest and a 74 percent limited partner interest in WPZ.
We were founded in 1908, originally incorporated under the laws of the state of Nevada in 1949 and reincorporated under the laws of the state of Delaware in 1987. Williams’ headquarters are located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with other major offices in Salt Lake City, Utah; Houston, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the Four Corners Area. Our telephone number is 918-573-2000.
FINANCIAL INFORMATION ABOUT SEGMENTS
See Part II, “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements — Note 18 – Segment Disclosures.”
BUSINESS SEGMENTS
Substantially all our operations are conducted through our subsidiaries. Our activities in 2017 were operated through the following reporting segments as presented in the accompanying financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis.
Williams Partners — comprised of our consolidated master limited partnership, WPZ, which includes gas pipeline and midstream businesses. The gas pipeline business includes interstate natural gas pipelines and pipeline joint project investments. The midstream business provides natural gas gathering, treating, processing and compression services; NGL production, fractionation, storage, marketing and transportation; deepwater production handling and crude oil transportation services; an olefin production business (see Note 2 –


4




Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), and is comprised of several wholly owned and partially owned subsidiaries and joint project investments.
This reporting segment also included our former Canadian midstream operations comprised of an oil sands offgas processing plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, an NGL/olefin fractionation facility, and the Boreal Pipeline, which were sold in September 2016 (see Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
Other — comprised of business activities that are not operating segments, as well as corporate operations. Other also includes certain domestic olefins pipeline assets as well as certain Canadian assets, which included a liquids extraction plant located near Fort McMurray, Alberta, that began operations in March 2016, and a propane dehydrogenation facility which was under development. In September 2016, the Canadian assets were sold (see Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
Detailed discussion of each of our reporting segments follows. For a discussion of our ongoing expansion projects, see Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
Williams Partners
Gas Pipeline Business
Williams Partners’ gas pipeline businesses consist primarily of Transco and Northwest Pipeline. Our gas pipeline business also holds interests in joint venture interstate and intrastate natural gas pipeline systems including a 50 percent equity-method investment in Gulfstream and a 41 percent interest in Constitution (a consolidated entity), which is developing a pipeline project (see Note 3 – Variable Interest Entities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). Transco and Northwest Pipeline own and operate a combined total of approximately 13,600 miles of pipelines with a total annual throughput of approximately 4,533 TBtu of natural gas and peak-day delivery capacity of approximately 18.8 MMdth of natural gas.
Transco
Transco is an interstate natural gas transmission company that owns and operates a 9,700-mile natural gas pipeline system, which is regulated by the FERC, extending from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the New York City metropolitan area. The system serves customers in Texas and 12 southeast and Atlantic seaboard states, including major metropolitan areas in Georgia, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Pipeline system and customers
At December 31, 2017, Transco’s system, which extends from Texas to New York, had a system-wide delivery capacity totaling approximately 15.0 MMdth of natural gas per day. During 2017, Transco completed five fully-contracted expansions, which added more than 2.8 MMdth of firm transportation capacity per day to the existing pipeline system. Transco’s system includes 50 compressor stations, four underground storage fields, and an LNG storage facility. Compression facilities at sea level-rated capacity total approximately 2.1 million horsepower.
Transco’s major natural gas transportation customers are public utilities and municipalities that provide service to residential, commercial, industrial and electric generation end users. Shippers on Transco’s system include public utilities, municipalities, intrastate pipelines, direct industrial users, electric power generators, and natural gas marketers and producers. Transco’s firm transportation agreements are generally long-term agreements with various expiration dates and account for the major portion of Transco’s business. Additionally, Transco offers interruptible transportation services under shorter-term agreements.
Transco has natural gas storage capacity in four underground storage fields located on or near its pipeline system or market areas and operates two of these storage fields. Transco also has storage capacity in an LNG storage facility that it owns and operates. The total usable gas storage capacity available to Transco and its customers in such underground storage fields and LNG storage facility and through storage service contracts is approximately 200 Bcf of natural gas. At December 31, 2017, Transco’s customers had stored in its facilities approximately 141


5




Bcf of natural gas. In addition, wholly owned subsidiaries of Transco operate and hold a 35 percent equity-method investment in Pine Needle LNG Company, LLC, an LNG storage facility with 4 Bcf of storage capacity. Storage capacity permits Transco’s customers to inject gas into storage during the summer and off-peak periods for delivery during peak winter demand periods.
Northwest Pipeline
Northwest Pipeline is an interstate natural gas transmission company that owns and operates a natural gas pipeline system, which is regulated by the FERC, extending from the San Juan basin in northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado through Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to a point on the Canadian border near Sumas, Washington. Northwest Pipeline provides services for markets in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Arizona, either directly or indirectly through interconnections with other pipelines.
Pipeline system and customers
At December 31, 2017, Northwest Pipeline’s system, having long-term firm transportation and storage redelivery agreements with aggregate capacity reservations of approximately 3.8 MMdth/d, was composed of approximately 3,900 miles of mainline and lateral transmission pipeline and 41 transmission compressor stations having a combined sea level-rated capacity of approximately 472,000 horsepower.
Northwest Pipeline transports and stores natural gas for a broad mix of customers, including local natural gas distribution companies, municipal utilities, direct industrial users, electric power generators, and natural gas marketers and producers. Northwest Pipeline’s firm transportation and storage contracts are generally long-term contracts with various expiration dates and account for the major portion of Northwest Pipeline’s business. Additionally, Northwest Pipeline offers interruptible and short-term firm transportation service.
Northwest Pipeline owns a one-third interest in the Jackson Prairie underground storage facility in Washington and contracts with a third party for natural gas storage services in the Clay Basin underground field in Utah. Northwest Pipeline also owns and operates an LNG storage facility in Washington. These storage facilities have an aggregate working natural gas storage capacity of 14.2 MMdth of natural gas, which is substantially utilized for third-party natural gas. These natural gas storage facilities enable Northwest Pipeline to balance daily receipts and deliveries and provide storage services to customers.
Gulfstream
Gulfstream is a 745-mile interstate natural gas pipeline system extending from the Mobile Bay area in Alabama to markets in Florida, which has a capacity to transport 1.3 Bcf/d. Williams Partners owns, through a subsidiary, a 50 percent equity-method investment in Gulfstream. Williams Partners shares operating responsibilities for Gulfstream with the other 50 percent owner.
Midstream Business
Williams Partners’ midstream business, one of the nation’s largest natural gas gatherers and processors, has primary service areas concentrated in major producing basins in Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and Ohio. The primary businesses are: (1) natural gas gathering, treating, and processing; (2) NGL fractionation, storage and transportation; (3) crude oil transportation; and (4) olefins production (see Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). These fall within the middle of the process of taking raw natural gas and crude oil from the producing fields to the consumer.
Key variables for this business will continue to be:
Producer drilling activities impacting natural gas supplies supporting our gathering and processing volumes;
Prices impacting commodity-based activities;


6




Retaining and attracting customers by continuing to provide reliable services;
Revenue growth associated with additional infrastructure either completed or currently under construction;
Disciplined growth in service areas.
Gathering, Processing, and Treating
Williams Partners’ gathering systems receive natural gas from producers’ oil and natural gas wells and gather these volumes to gas processing, treating or redelivery facilities. Typically, natural gas, in its raw form, is not acceptable for transportation in major interstate natural gas pipelines or for commercial use as a fuel. Williams Partners’ treating facilities remove water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other contaminants and collect condensate, but do not extract NGLs. Williams Partners’ is generally paid a fee based on the volume of natural gas gathered and/or treated, generally measured in the Btu heating value.
In addition, natural gas contains various amounts of NGLs, which generally have a higher value when separated from the natural gas stream. Our processing plants extract the NGLs in addition to removing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other contaminants. NGL products include:
Ethane, primarily used in the petrochemical industry as a feedstock for ethylene production, one of the basic building blocks for plastics;
Propane, used for heating, fuel and as a petrochemical feedstock in the production of ethylene and propylene, another building block for petrochemical-based products such as carpets, packing materials, and molded plastic parts;
Normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline, primarily used by the refining industry as blending stocks for motor gasoline or as a petrochemical feedstock.
Our gas processing services generate revenues primarily from the following types of contracts:
Fee-based: We are paid a fee based on the volume of natural gas processed, generally measured in the Btu heating value. Our customers are entitled to the NGLs produced in connection with this type of processing agreement. A portion of our fee-based processing revenues includes a share of the margins on the NGLs produced. For the year ended December 31, 2017, 70 percent of our NGL production volumes were under fee-based contracts.
Noncash commodity-based: We also process gas under two types of commodity-based contracts, keep-whole and percent-of-liquids, where we receive consideration for our services in the form of NGLs. Under these contracts, we retain some or all of the extracted NGLs as compensation for our services. For a keep-whole arrangement we replace the Btu content of the retained NGLs that were extracted during processing with natural gas purchases, also known as shrink replacement gas. For a percent-of-liquids arrangement, we deliver to customers an agreed-upon percentage of the extracted NGLs and retain the remainder. NGLs we retain in connection with these types of processing agreements are referred to as our equity NGL production. Under keep-whole agreements, we have commodity price exposure on the difference between NGL and natural gas prices. For the year ended December 31, 2017, 30 percent of our NGL production volumes were under noncash commodity-based contracts.
Our gathering and processing agreements have terms ranging from month-to-month to the life of the producing lease. Generally, our gathering and processing agreements are long-term agreements. Some contracts have price escalators which annually increase our gathering rates. In addition, certain contracts include fee redetermination or cost of service mechanisms that are designed to support a return on invested capital and allow our gathering rates to be adjusted, subject to specified caps in certain cases, to account for variability in volume, capital expenditures, commodity price fluctuations, compression and other expenses. Certain of our gas gathering agreements include MVCs. If the minimum annual or semi-annual volume commitment is not met, these customers are obligated to pay a fee equal to


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the applicable fee for each Mcf by which the applicable customer’s minimum annual or semi-annual volume commitment exceeds the actual volume gathered. The revenue associated with such shortfall fees is generally recognized in the fourth quarter of each year.
Demand for gas gathering and processing services is dependent on producers’ drilling activities, which is impacted by the strength of the economy, natural gas prices, and the resulting demand for natural gas by manufacturing and industrial companies and consumers. Williams Partners’ gas gathering and processing customers are generally natural gas producers who have proved and/or producing natural gas fields in the areas surrounding its infrastructure. During 2017, Williams Partners’ facilities gathered and processed gas and crude oil for approximately 260 customers. Williams Partners’ top ten customers accounted for approximately 75 percent of our gathering and processing fee revenues and NGL margins from our noncash commodity-based agreements.
Demand for our equity NGLs is affected by economic conditions and the resulting demand from industries using these commodities to produce petrochemical-based products such as plastics, carpets, packing materials and blending stocks for motor gasoline and the demand from consumers using these commodities for heating and fuel. NGL products are currently the preferred feedstock for ethylene and propylene production, which has shifted away from the more expensive crude-based feedstocks.
Geographically, the midstream natural gas assets are positioned to maximize commercial and operational synergies with our other assets. For example, most of the offshore gathering and processing assets attach and process or condition natural gas supplies delivered to the Transco pipeline. Our San Juan basin, southwest Wyoming, and Piceance systems are capable of delivering residue gas volumes into Northwest Pipeline’s interstate system in addition to third-party interstate systems. Our gathering systems in Pennsylvania delivers residue gas volumes into Transco’s pipeline in addition to third-party interstate systems.


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The following table summarizes our significant consolidated natural gas gathering assets:
 
Natural Gas Gathering Assets
 
Location
 
Pipeline
Miles
 
Inlet
Capacity
(Bcf/d)
 
Ownership
Interest
 
Supply Basins/Shale Formations
Northeast
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ohio Valley Midstream
Ohio, West Virginia, & Pennsylvania
 
216
 
0.8
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Susquehanna Supply Hub
Pennsylvania & New York
 
436
 
3.2
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Cardinal (1)
Ohio
 
353
 
1.0
 
66%
 
Appalachian
Flint
Ohio
 
75
 
0.4
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Marcellus South (2)
Pennsylvania
 
41
 
0.1
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Atlantic-Gulf
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Canyon Chief, including Blind Faith and Gulfstar extensions
Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
 
156
 
0.5
 
100%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
Other Eastern Gulf
Offshore shelf and other
 
46
 
0.2
 
100%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
Seahawk
Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
 
115
 
0.4
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
Perdido Norte
Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
 
105
 
0.3
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
Other Western Gulf
Offshore shelf and other
 
105
 
0.5
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
West
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Four Corners
Colorado & New Mexico
 
3,742
 
1.8
 
100%
 
San Juan
Wamsutter
Wyoming
 
2,084
 
0.7
 
100%
 
Wamsutter
Southwest Wyoming
Wyoming
 
1,614
 
0.5
 
100%
 
Southwest Wyoming
Piceance
Colorado
 
352
 
1.8
 
(3)
 
Piceance
Niobrara
Wyoming
 
224
 
0.2
 
(4)
 
Powder River
Barnett Shale
Texas
 
858
 
0.8
 
100%
 
Barnett Shale
Eagle Ford Shale
Texas
 
1,225
 
0.6
 
100%
 
Eagle Ford Shale
Haynesville Shale
Louisiana
 
626
 
1.8
 
100%
 
Haynesville Shale
Permian
Texas
 
365
 
0.1
 
100%
 
Permian
Mid-Continent
Oklahoma, Texas, & Kansas
 
2,248
 
0.9
 
100%
 
Miss-Lime, Granite Wash, Colony Wash, Arkoma
__________
(1)
Statistics reflect 100 percent of the assets from our 66 percent ownership of Cardinal gathering system.

(2)
Statistics reflect 100 percent of the Beaver Creek assets in the consolidated Marcellus South gathering system.
(3)
Includes our 60 percent ownership of a gathering system in the Ryan Gulch area with 140 miles of pipeline and 0.2 Bcf/d of inlet capacity, and our 67 percent ownership of a gathering system at Allen Point with 8 miles of pipeline and 0.1 Bcf/d of inlet capacity. We operate both systems. We own and operate 100 percent of the balance of the Piceance gathering assets.
(4)
Statistics reflect 100 percent of the assets from our 50 percent ownership of the Jackalope gathering system.


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The following table summarizes our significant consolidated natural gas processing facilities:
 
Natural Gas Processing Facilities
 
Location
 
Inlet
Capacity
(Bcf/d)
 
NGL
Production
Capacity
(Mbbls/d)
 
Ownership
Interest
 
Supply Basins
Northeast
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fort Beeler
Marshall County, WV
 
0.5
 
62
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Oak Grove
Marshall County, WV
 
0.2
 
25
 
100%
 
Appalachian
Atlantic-Gulf
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Markham
Markham, TX
 
0.5
 
45
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
Mobile Bay
Coden, AL
 
0.7
 
30
 
100%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
West
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Echo Springs
Echo Springs, WY
 
0.7
 
58
 
100%
 
Wamsutter
Opal
Opal, WY
 
1.1
 
47
 
100%
 
Southwest Wyoming
Bucking Horse (1)
Converse County, WY
 
0.1
 
7
 
50%
 
Powder River
Willow Creek
Rio Blanco County, CO
 
0.5
 
30
 
100%
 
Piceance
Parachute
Garfield County, CO
 
1.1
 
6
 
100%
 
Piceance
Ignacio
Ignacio, CO
 
0.5
 
29
 
100%
 
San Juan
Kutz
Bloomfield, NM
 
0.2
 
12
 
100%
 
San Juan
__________
(1)
Statistics reflect 100 percent of the assets from our 50 percent ownership of Bucking Horse gas processing facility.
In addition, we own and operate several natural gas treating facilities in New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and Louisiana which bring natural gas to specifications allowable by major interstate pipelines.
We also own and operate fractionation facilities at Moundsville, de-ethanization and condensate facilities at our Oak Grove processing plant, a condensate stabilization facility near our Oak Grove plant, and an ethane transportation pipeline.  Our three condensate stabilizers are capable of handling 17 Mbbls/d of field condensate.  NGLs are extracted from the natural gas stream in our cryogenic processing plants. Our Oak Grove de-ethanizer is capable of handling up to approximately 80 Mbbls/d of mixed NGLs to extract up to approximately 40 Mbbls/d of ethane.  The remaining mixed NGL stream from the de-ethanizer is then transported and fractionated at our Moundsville facilities, which are capable of handling more than 43 Mbbls/d of mixed NGLs.  Ethane produced at our de-ethanizer is transported to markets via our 50-mile ethane pipeline from Oak Grove to Houston, Pennsylvania.
Our gathering business in the Northeast also provides multiple takeaway options to its customers. Ohio Valley Midstream makes customer deliveries with interconnections to two pipelines. Susquehanna Supply Hub makes deliveries for its customers with interconnections to Transco, as well as five other pipelines, while our Cardinal system utilizes interconnections with Blue Racer Midstream, LLC (Blue Racer), and UEOM. In addition, our NGL processing business utilizes connections with multiple pipelines, as well as truck and rail transportation to local and regional markets.
Crude Oil Transportation and Production Handling Assets
In addition to our natural gas assets, we own and operate four deepwater crude oil pipelines and own production platforms serving the deepwater in the Gulf of Mexico. Our crude oil transportation revenues are typically volumetric-based fee arrangements. However, a portion of our marketing revenues are recognized from purchase and sale arrangements whereby the oil that we transport is purchased and sold as a function of the same index-based price. Our offshore floating production platforms provide centralized services to deepwater producers such as compression, separation, production handling, water removal, and pipeline landings. Revenue sources have historically included a combination of fixed-fee, volumetric-based fee and cost reimbursement arrangements. Fixed fees associated with the resident production at our Devils Tower facility are recognized on a units-of-production basis. Fixed fees associated with the resident production at our Gulfstar One facility are recognized as the guaranteed capacity is made available. 


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The following tables summarize our significant crude oil transportation pipelines and production handling platforms:
 
Crude Oil Pipelines
 
Pipeline
Miles
 
Capacity
(Mbbls/d)
 
Ownership
Interest
 
Supply Basins
Mountaineer, including Blind Faith and Gulfstar extensions
155
 
150
 
100%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
BANJO
57
 
90
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
Alpine
96
 
85
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
Perdido Norte
74
 
150
 
100%
 
Western Gulf of Mexico
 
Production Handling Platforms
 
Gas Inlet
Capacity
(MMcf/d)
 
Crude/NGL
Handling
Capacity
(Mbbls/d)
 
Ownership
Interest
 
Supply Basins
Devils Tower
210
 
60
 
100%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
Gulfstar I FPS (1)
172
 
80
 
51%
 
Eastern Gulf of Mexico
__________
(1)
Statistics reflect 100 percent of the assets from our 51 percent interest in Gulfstar One.

Canadian Operations
Williams Partners completed the sale of its Canadian operations in September 2016. This business included an oil sands offgas processing plant located near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and an NGL/olefin fractionation facility located at Redwater, Alberta, which is near Edmonton, Alberta, and the Boreal Pipeline which transported NGLs and associated olefins from the Fort McMurray plant to the Redwater fractionation facility. This business allowed us to extract, fractionate, treat, store, terminal and sell the ethane/ethylene, propane, propylene, normal butane (butane), iso-butane, alky feedstock, and condensate recovered from a third-party oil sands bitumen upgrader.
Operating statistics
The following table summarizes our significant operating statistics:
 
2016
 
2015
Volumes:
 
 
 
Canadian propylene sales (millions of pounds)
87

 
161

Canadian NGL sales (millions of gallons)
141

 
284


Gulf Olefins
In mid-2017, Williams Partners completed the sale of its 88.5 percent undivided interest and operatorship of an olefins production facility in Geismar, Louisiana, along with a refinery grade propylene splitter in the Gulf region. The olefins business also operated an ethylene storage hub at Mont Belvieu using leased third-party underground storage caverns.
Our refinery grade propylene splitter had production capacity of approximately 500 million pounds per year of propylene. At the propylene splitter, we purchased refinery grade propylene and fractionated it into polymer grade propylene and propane; as a result, the asset was exposed to the price spread between those commodities.
Marketing Services
We market NGL products to a wide range of users in the energy and petrochemical industries. The NGL marketing business transports and markets our equity NGLs from the production at our processing plants, and also markets NGLs on behalf of third-party NGL producers, including some of our fee-based processing customers, and the NGL volumes


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owned by Discovery. The NGL marketing business bears the risk of price changes in these NGL volumes while they are being transported to final sales delivery points. In order to meet sales contract obligations, we may purchase products in the spot market for resale. Other than a long-term agreement to sell our equity NGLs transported on OPPL, the majority of sales are based on supply contracts of one year or less in duration.
In certain situations to facilitate our gas gathering and processing activities, we buy natural gas from our producer customers for resale.
Prior to the sale of our olefin operations, we marketed olefin products to a wide range of users in the energy and petrochemical industries.
Other NGL & Petchem Operations
We own interests in and/or operate NGL fractionation and storage assets in central Kansas near Conway. These assets include a 50 percent interest in an NGL fractionation facility with capacity of slightly more than 100 Mbbls/d and we own approximately 20 million barrels of NGL storage capacity.
We own 283 miles of pipeline systems in Louisiana and Texas that provide feedstock transportation from fractionation and storage facilities to various third-party crackers. These systems include the Bayou ethane pipeline, which provides ethane transportation from Mont Belvieu, Texas; certain ethane and propane systems in Louisiana; and a pipeline that has the capacity to transport 12 Mbbls/d of ethane from Discovery’s Paradis fractionator.
We own 114 miles of pipelines in the Houston Ship Channel area which transport a variety of products including ethane, propane, ammonia, tertiary butyl alcohol, and other industrial products used in the petrochemical industry. We also own a tunnel crossing pipeline under the Houston Ship Channel.  A portion of these pipelines are leased to third parties.
WPZ Operating Areas
WPZ organizes these businesses into the following operating areas:
Northeast G&P is comprised of natural gas gathering and processing, compression, and NGL fractionation businesses in the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and Ohio, as well as a 66 percent interest in Cardinal (a consolidated entity), a 62 percent equity-method investment in UEOM, a 69 percent equity-method investment in Laurel Mountain, a 58 percent equity-method investment in Caiman II, and Appalachia Midstream Services, LLC, which owns an approximate average 66 percent interest in multiple gas gathering systems in the Marcellus Shale.
Atlantic-Gulf is comprised of an interstate natural gas pipeline, Transco, and significant natural gas gathering and processing and crude oil production handling and transportation assets in the Gulf Coast region, including a 51 percent interest in Gulfstar One (a consolidated entity) which is a proprietary floating production system, and various petrochemical and feedstock pipelines in the Gulf Coast region, as well as a 50 percent equity-method investment in Gulfstream, a 41 percent interest in Constitution (a consolidated entity) which is developing a pipeline project (see Note 3 – Variable Interest Entities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), and a 60 percent equity-method investment in Discovery.
West is comprised of an interstate natural gas pipeline, Northwest Pipeline, and natural gas gathering, processing, and treating operations in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, as well as the Barnett Shale region of north-central Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale region of south Texas, the Haynesville Shale region of northwest Louisiana, and the Mid-Continent region which includes the Anadarko, Arkoma, Delaware, and Permian basins. West also includes an NGL and natural gas marketing business, storage facilities, and an undivided 50 percent interest in an NGL fractionator near Conway, Kansas, as well as our previously owned 50 percent equity-method investment in the Delaware basin gas gathering system in the Permian basin, and a 50 percent equity-method investment in OPPL.
NGL & Petchem Services is comprised of previously owned operations, including an 88.5 percent undivided interest in an olefins production facility in Geismar, Louisiana, which was sold in July 2017 (see Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), and a refinery grade propylene splitter in the Gulf


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region, which was sold in June 2017. This operating area also included an oil sands offgas processing plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, and an NGL/olefin fractionation facility, which were sold in September 2016.
Certain Equity-Method Investments
Discovery
We own a 60 percent interest in and operate the facilities of Discovery. Discovery’s assets include a 600 MMcf/d cryogenic natural gas processing plant near Larose, Louisiana, a 32 Mbbls/d NGL fractionator plant near Paradis, Louisiana, and a 614-mile offshore natural gas gathering and transportation system in the Gulf of Mexico. Discovery’s mainline has a gathering inlet capacity of 600 MMcf/d, while the Keathley Canyon Connector, a deepwater lateral pipeline in the central deepwater Gulf of Mexico has a gathering inlet capacity of 400 MMcf/d. Discovery’s assets also include a crude oil production handling platform with a crude oil/NGL handling capacity of 10 Mbbls/d and natural gas processing capacity of 75 MMcf/d.
Laurel Mountain
We own a 69 percent interest in a joint venture, Laurel Mountain, that includes a 2,053-mile gathering system that we operate in western Pennsylvania with the capacity to gather 0.7 Bcf/d of natural gas. Laurel Mountain has a long-term, dedicated, volumetric-based fee agreement, with exposure to natural gas prices, to gather the anchor customer’s production in the western Pennsylvania area of the Marcellus Shale.

Caiman II
We own a 58 percent interest in Caiman II, which owns a 50 percent interest in Blue Racer, a joint project to own, operate, develop and acquire midstream assets in the Utica Shale and certain adjacent areas in the Marcellus Shale. Blue Racer’s assets include 721 miles of gathering pipelines, and the Natrium complex in Marshall County, West Virginia, with a cryogenic processing capacity of 400 MMcf/d and fractionation capacity of approximately 120,000 Bbls/d. Blue Racer also owns the Berne complex in Monroe County, Ohio, with a cryogenic processing capacity of 400 MMcf/d, and NGL and condensate pipelines connecting Natrium to Berne.

Utica East Ohio Midstream
We own a 62 percent interest in UEOM, which includes infrastructure for the gathering, processing, and fractionation of natural gas and NGLs in the Utica Shale play in eastern Ohio. We operate a natural gas gathering pipeline, while our partner operates inlet compression, two processing plants with a total capacity of 800 MMcf/d, 41 Mbbls/d of condensate stabilization capacity, a 135 Mbbls/d NGL fractionation facility, approximately 950,000 barrels of NGL storage capacity and other ancillary assets, including loading and terminal facilities. These assets earn a fixed fee that escalates annually within a specified range.
Appalachia Midstream Investments    
Through our Appalachia Midstream Investments, we operate 100 percent of and own an approximate average 66 percent interest in the Bradford Supply Hub gathering system and own an approximate average 68 percent interest in the Marcellus South gathering system, together which consist of approximately 987 miles of gathering pipeline in the Marcellus Shale region. The majority of our volumes in the region are gathered from northern Pennsylvania, southwestern Pennsylvania and the northwestern panhandle of West Virginia in core areas of the Marcellus Shale. Appalachia Midstream Investments operates the assets under long-term, 100 percent fixed-fee gathering agreements that include significant acreage dedications and cost of service mechanisms.
During the first quarter of 2017, we exchanged all of our 50 percent interest in the Delaware basin gas gathering system for an increased interest in the Bradford Supply Hub natural gas gathering system that is part of the Appalachia Midstream Investments and $155 million in cash. Following this exchange, we have an approximate average 66 percent interest in the Appalachia Midstream Investments. We continue to account for this investment under the equity-method due to the significant participatory rights of our partners such that we do not exercise control. (See Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)


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Aux Sable
We also own a 15 percent interest in Aux Sable and its Channahon, Illinois, gas processing and NGL fractionation facility near Chicago. The facility is capable of processing up to 2.1 Bcf/d of natural gas from the Alliance Pipeline system and fractionating approximately 132 Mbbls/d of extracted liquids into NGL products. Additionally, Aux Sable owns an 80 MMcf/d gas conditioning plant and a 12-inch, 83-mile gas pipeline infrastructure in North Dakota that provides additional NGLs to Channahon from the Bakken Shale in the Williston basin.
Delaware basin gas gathering system
We previously owned a non-operated 50 percent interest in the Delaware basin gas gathering system in the Permian basin, which was sold in February 2017. The system was comprised of more than 450 miles of gathering pipeline, located in west Texas.
Overland Pass Pipeline
We also operate and own a 50 percent interest in OPPL. OPPL is capable of transporting 255 Mbbls/d and includes approximately 1,096 miles of NGL pipeline extending from Opal, Wyoming, to the Mid-Continent NGL market center near Conway, Kansas, along with extensions into the Piceance and Denver-Julesberg basins in Colorado and the Bakken Shale in the Williston basin in North Dakota. Our equity NGL volumes from two of our three Wyoming plants and our Willow Creek facility in Colorado are dedicated for transport on OPPL under a long-term transportation agreement.
Operating Statistics
The following table summarizes our significant operating statistics for Williams Partners’ domestic midstream business:
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Volumes: (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Gathering (Bcf/d)
8.15

 
8.25

 
8.34

Plant inlet natural gas (Bcf/d)
3.05

 
3.50

 
3.52

NGL production (Mbbls/d) (2)
148

 
151

 
131

NGL equity sales (Mbbls/d) (2)
39

 
46

 
31

Crude oil transportation (Mbbls/d) (2)
134

 
113

 
126

Geismar ethylene sales (millions of pounds)
566

 
1,638

 
1,066

__________
(1)
Excludes volumes associated with equity-method investments.
(2)
Annual average Mbbls/d.
Additional Business Segment Information
Our ongoing business segments are presented as continuing operations in the accompanying financial statements and Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included in Part II.
We perform certain management, legal, financial, tax, consultation, information technology, administrative and other services for our subsidiaries.
Our principal sources of cash are from dividends, distributions, and advances from our subsidiaries, investments, payments by subsidiaries for services rendered, and, if needed, external financings, and net proceeds from asset sales. The terms of certain subsidiaries’ borrowing arrangements may limit the transfer of funds to us under certain conditions.
We believe that we have adequate sources and availability of raw materials and commodities for existing and anticipated business needs. Our interstate pipeline systems are all regulated in various ways resulting in the financial return on the investments made in the systems being limited to standards permitted by the regulatory agencies. Each of the pipeline systems has ongoing capital requirements for efficiency and mandatory improvements, with expansion opportunities also necessitating periodic capital outlays.


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Revenues by service within our Williams Partners segment that exceeded 10 percent of consolidated revenue include:
 
Total
 
(Millions)
2017
 
Service:


Regulated natural gas transportation and storage
$
2,148

Gathering, processing, and production handling
2,715

2016
 
Service:
 
Regulated natural gas transportation and storage
$
2,001

Gathering, processing, and production handling
2,729

2015
 
Service:
 
Regulated natural gas transportation and storage
$
1,938

Gathering, processing and production handling
2,804

We have one customer, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, and its affiliates, that accounts for 10 percent of our total revenue in 2017. (See Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional details.)
REGULATORY MATTERS
FERC
Our gas pipeline interstate transmission and storage activities are subject to FERC regulation under the Natural Gas Act of 1938 (NGA) and under the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, and, as such, our rates and charges for the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, accounting, and the extension, enlargement, or abandonment of our jurisdictional facilities, among other things, are subject to regulation. Each gas pipeline company holds certificates of public convenience and necessity issued by the FERC authorizing ownership and operation of all pipelines, facilities, and properties for which certificates are required under the NGA. FERC Standards of Conduct govern how our interstate pipelines communicate and do business with gas marketing employees. Among other things, the Standards of Conduct require that interstate pipelines not operate their systems to preferentially benefit gas marketing functions.
FERC regulation requires all terms and conditions of service, including the rates charged, to be filed with and approved by the FERC before any changes can go into effect. Each of our interstate natural gas pipeline companies establishes its rates primarily through the FERC’s ratemaking process. Key determinants in the ratemaking process are:
Costs of providing service, including depreciation expense;
Allowed rate of return, including the equity component of the capital structure and related income taxes;
Contract and volume throughput assumptions.
The allowed rate of return is determined in each rate case. Rate design and the allocation of costs between the reservation and commodity rates also impact profitability. As a result of these proceedings, certain revenues previously collected may be subject to refund.
We also own interests in and operate two offshore transmission pipelines that are regulated by the FERC because they are deemed to transport gas in interstate commerce. Black Marlin Pipeline Company provides transportation service for offshore Texas production in the High Island area and redelivers that gas to intrastate pipeline interconnects near Texas City. Discovery provides transportation service for offshore Louisiana production from the South Timbalier,


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Grand Isle, Ewing Bank, and Green Canyon (deepwater) areas to an onshore processing facility and downstream interconnect points with major interstate pipelines. In addition, Williams Partners owns a 50 percent equity-method investment in and is the operator of OPPL, which is an interstate natural gas liquids pipeline regulated by the FERC pursuant to the Interstate Commerce Act. OPPL provides transportation service pursuant to tariffs filed with the FERC. We also own an ethane pipeline in West Virginia and Pennsylvania (Williams Ohio Valley Pipeline LLC) and an ethane pipeline in Texas and Louisiana (Williams Bayou Ethane Pipeline) each of which provides interstate service subject to FERC jurisdiction under the Interstate Commerce Act.
Pipeline Safety
Our gas pipelines are subject to the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968, as amended, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Jobs Creation Act of 2011 (Pipeline Safety Act), and the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, which regulate safety requirements in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of interstate natural gas transmission facilities. The United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) administers federal pipeline safety laws.
Federal pipeline safety laws authorize PHMSA to establish minimum safety standards for pipeline facilities and persons engaged in the transportation of gas or hazardous liquids by pipeline. These safety standards apply to the design, construction, testing, operation, and maintenance of gas and hazardous liquids pipeline facilities affecting interstate or foreign commerce. PHMSA has also established reporting requirements for operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipeline facilities, as well as provisions for establishing the qualification of pipeline personnel and requirements for managing the integrity of gas transmission and distribution lines and certain hazardous liquid pipelines. To ensure compliance with these provisions, PHMSA performs pipeline safety inspections and has the authority to initiate enforcement actions.
Federal pipeline safety regulations contain an exemption that applies to gathering lines in certain rural locations. A substantial portion of our gathering lines qualify for that exemption and are currently not regulated under federal law.
States are largely preempted by federal law from regulating pipeline safety for interstate pipelines but most are certified by PHMSA to assume responsibility for enforcing intrastate pipeline safety regulations and inspecting intrastate pipelines. In practice, because states can adopt stricter standards for intrastate pipelines than those imposed by the federal government for interstate lines, they vary considerably in their authority and capacity to address pipeline safety.
On January 3, 2012, the Pipeline Safety Act was enacted. The Pipeline Safety Act requires PHMSA to complete a number of reports in preparation for potential rulemakings. The issues addressed in these rulemaking provisions include, but are not limited to, the use of automatic or remotely controlled shut-off valves on new or replaced transmission line facilities, modifying the requirements for pipeline leak detection systems, and expanding the scope of the pipeline integrity management requirements for both gas and liquid pipeline systems. On June 22, 2016, the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 was enacted, further strengthening PHMSA’s safety authority.
Pipeline Integrity Regulations
We have an enterprise-wide Gas Integrity Management Plan that we believe meets the PHMSA final rule that was issued pursuant to the requirements of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. The rule requires gas pipeline operators to develop an integrity management program for gas transmission pipelines that could affect high-consequence areas in the event of pipeline failure. The integrity management program includes a baseline assessment plan along with periodic reassessments to be completed within required time frames. In meeting the integrity regulations, we have identified high-consequence areas and developed baseline assessment plans. Ongoing periodic reassessments and initial assessments of any new high-consequence areas have been completed. We estimate that the cost to be incurred in 2018 associated with this program to be approximately $99 million. Management considers the costs associated with compliance with the rule to be prudent costs incurred in the ordinary course of business and, therefore, recoverable through Northwest Pipeline’s and Transco’s rates.


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We have an enterprise-wide Liquid Integrity Management Plan that we believe meets the PHMSA final rule that was issued pursuant to the requirements of the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002. The rule requires liquid pipeline operators to develop an integrity management program for liquid transmission pipelines that could affect high-consequence areas in the event of pipeline failure. The integrity management program includes a baseline assessment plan along with periodic reassessments expected to be completed within required time frames. In meeting the integrity regulations, we utilized government defined high-consequence areas and developed baseline assessment plans. We completed assessments within the required time frames. We estimate that the cost to be incurred in 2018 associated with this program will be approximately $4 million. Ongoing periodic reassessments and initial assessments of any new high-consequence areas are expected to be completed within the time frames required by the rule. Management considers the costs associated with compliance with the rule to be prudent costs incurred in the ordinary course of business.
State Gathering Regulation
Our onshore midstream gathering operations are subject to laws and regulations in the various states in which we operate. For example, the Texas Railroad Commission has the authority to regulate the terms of service for our intrastate natural gas gathering business in Texas. Although the applicable state regulations vary widely, they generally require that pipeline rates and practices be reasonable and nondiscriminatory, and may include provisions covering marketing, pricing, pollution, environment, and human health and safety. Some states, such as New York, have specific regulations pertaining to the design, construction, and operations of gathering lines within such state.

Intrastate Liquids Pipelines in the Gulf Coast

Our intrastate liquids pipelines in the Gulf Coast are regulated by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Texas Railroad Commission, and various other state and federal agencies. These pipelines are also subject to the liquid pipeline safety and integrity regulations discussed above since both Louisiana and Texas have adopted the integrity management regulations defined in PHMSA.

OCSLA
Our offshore midstream gathering is subject to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Although offshore gathering facilities are not subject to the NGA, offshore transmission pipelines are subject to the NGA, and in recent years the FERC has taken a broad view of offshore transmission, finding many shallow-water pipelines to be jurisdictional transmission. Most offshore gathering facilities are subject to the OCSLA, which provides in part that outer continental shelf pipelines “must provide open and nondiscriminatory access to both owner and nonowner shippers.”
See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 17 – Contingent Liabilities and Commitments of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for further details on our regulatory matters. For additional information regarding regulatory matters, please also refer to “Risk Factors — The operation of our businesses might also be adversely affected by regulatory proceedings, changes in government regulations or in their interpretation or implementation, or the introduction of new laws or regulations applicable to our businesses or our customers,” and “The natural gas sales, transportation, and storage operations of our gas pipelines are subject to regulation by the FERC, which could have an adverse impact on their ability to establish transportation and storage rates that would allow them to recover the full cost of operating their respective pipelines, including a reasonable rate of return."
ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS
Our operations are subject to federal environmental laws and regulations as well as the state, local, and tribal laws and regulations adopted by the jurisdictions in which we operate. We could incur liability to governments or third parties for any unlawful discharge of pollutants into the air, soil, or water, as well as liability for cleanup costs. Materials could be released into the environment in several ways including, but not limited to:
Leakage from gathering systems, underground gas storage caverns, pipelines, processing or treating facilities, transportation facilities, and storage tanks;


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Damage to facilities resulting from accidents during normal operations;
Damages to onshore and offshore equipment and facilities resulting from storm events or natural disasters;
Blowouts, cratering, and explosions.
In addition, we may be liable for environmental damage caused by former owners or operators of our properties.
We believe compliance with current environmental laws and regulations will not have a material adverse effect on our capital expenditures, earnings, or current competitive position. However, environmental laws and regulations could affect our business in various ways from time to time, including incurring capital and maintenance expenditures, fines and penalties, and creating the need to seek relief from the FERC for rate increases to recover the costs of certain capital expenditures and operation and maintenance expenses.
For additional information regarding the potential impact of federal, state, tribal, or local regulatory measures on our business and specific environmental issues, please refer to “Risk Factors — “Our operations are subject to environmental laws and regulations, including laws and regulations relating to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, which may expose us to significant costs, liabilities, and expenditures that could exceed our expectations,” and Part II, Item 7 “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Environmental” and “Environmental Matters” in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 17 – Contingent Liabilities and Commitments of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
COMPETITION
Gas Pipeline Business
The market for supplying natural gas is highly competitive and new pipelines, storage facilities, and other related services are expanding to service the growing demand for natural gas. Additionally, pipeline capacity in many growing natural gas supply basins is constrained causing competition to increase among pipeline companies as they strive to connect those basins to major natural gas demand centers.
In our business, we compete with major intrastate and interstate natural gas pipelines. In the last few years, local distribution companies have also started entering into the long haul transportation business through joint venture pipelines. The principle elements of competition in the interstate natural gas pipeline business are based on rates, reliability, quality of customer service, diversity of supply, and proximity to customers and market hubs.
Significant entrance barriers to build new pipelines exist, including federal and growing state regulations and public opposition against new pipeline builds, and these factors will continue to impact potential competition for the foreseeable future. However, we believe the position of our existing infrastructure, established strategic long-term contracts, and the fact that our pipelines have numerous receipt and delivery points along our systems provide us a competitive advantage, especially along the eastern seaboard and northwestern United States.
Midstream Business
Competition for natural gas gathering, processing, treating, transporting, and storing natural gas continues to increase as production from shales and other resource areas continues to grow. Our midstream services compete with similar facilities that are in the same proximity as our assets.
We face competition from major and independent natural gas midstream providers, private equity firms, and major integrated oil and natural gas companies that gather, transport, process, fractionate, store, and market natural gas and NGLs, as well as some larger exploration and production companies that are choosing to develop midstream services to handle their own natural gas.
Our gathering and processing agreements are generally long-term agreements that may include acreage dedication. We primarily face competition to the extent these agreements approach renewal and new volume opportunities arise. Competition for natural gas volumes is primarily based on reputation, commercial terms (products retained or fees charged), array of services provided, efficiency and reliability of services, location of gathering facilities, available capacity, downstream interconnects, and latent capacity. We believe our significant presence in traditional prolific


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supply basins, our solid positions in growing shale plays, and our ability to offer integrated packages of services position us well against our competition.
For additional information regarding competition for our services or otherwise affecting our business, please refer to “Risk Factors - The financial condition of our natural gas transportation and midstream businesses is dependent on the continued availability of natural gas supplies in the supply basins that we access and demand for those supplies in the markets we serve,”Our industry is highly competitive and increased competitive pressure could adversely affect our business and operating results,” and “We may not be able to replace, extend, or add additional customer contracts or contracted volumes on favorable terms, or at all, which could affect our financial condition, the amount of cash available to pay dividends, and our ability to grow.” 
EMPLOYEES
At February 1, 2018, we had approximately 5,425 full-time employees.
FINANCIAL INFORMATION ABOUT GEOGRAPHIC AREAS
See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 18 – Segment Disclosures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for amounts of revenues during the last three fiscal years from external customers attributable to the United States and all foreign countries. Also see Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 18 – Segment Disclosures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for information relating to long-lived assets during the last three fiscal years, located in the United States and all foreign countries.


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Item 1A. Risk Factors

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS AND CAUTIONARY STATEMENT
FOR PURPOSES OF THE “SAFE HARBOR” PROVISIONS OF
THE PRIVATE SECURITIES LITIGATION REFORM ACT OF 1995

The reports, filings, and other public announcements of Williams may contain or incorporate by reference statements that do not directly or exclusively relate to historical facts. Such statements are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act) and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (Exchange Act). These forward-looking statements relate to anticipated financial performance, management’s plans and objectives for future operations, business prospects, outcome of regulatory proceedings, market conditions, and other matters. We make these forward-looking statements in reliance on the safe harbor protections provided under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this report that address activities, events, or developments that we expect, believe or anticipate will exist or may occur in the future, are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can be identified by various forms of words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “seeks,” “could,” “may,” “should,” “continues,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “intends,” “might,” “goals,” “objectives,” “targets,” “planned,” “potential,” “projects,” “scheduled,” “will,” “assumes,” “guidance,” “outlook,” “in-service date,” or other similar expressions. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to management and include, among others, statements regarding:

Expected levels of cash distributions by WPZ with respect to limited partner interests;

Levels of dividends to Williams stockholders;

Future credit ratings of Williams, WPZ, and their affiliates;

Amounts and nature of future capital expenditures;

Expansion and growth of our business and operations;

Expected in-service dates for capital projects;

Financial condition and liquidity;

Business strategy;

Cash flow from operations or results of operations;

Seasonality of certain business components;

Natural gas and natural gas liquids prices, supply, and demand;

Demand for our services.

Forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions, uncertainties, and risks that could cause future events or results to be materially different from those stated or implied in this report. Many of the factors that will determine these results are beyond our ability to control or predict. Specific factors that could cause actual results to differ from results contemplated by the forward-looking statements include, among others, the following:



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Whether WPZ will produce sufficient cash flows to provide expected levels of cash distributions;

Whether we are able to pay current and expected levels of dividends;

Whether WPZ elects to pay expected levels of cash distributions and we elect to pay expected levels of dividends;

Whether we will be able to effectively execute our financing plan;

Availability of supplies, including lower than anticipated volumes from third parties served by our midstream business, and market demand;

Volatility of pricing including the effect of lower than anticipated energy commodity prices and margins;

Inflation, interest rates, and general economic conditions (including future disruptions and volatility in the global credit markets and the impact of these events on our customers and suppliers);

The strength and financial resources of our competitors and the effects of competition;

Whether we are able to successfully identify, evaluate, and timely execute our capital projects and other
investment opportunities in accordance with our forecasted capital expenditures budget;

Our ability to successfully expand our facilities and operations;

Development and rate of adoption of alternative energy sources;

The impact of operational and developmental hazards and unforeseen interruptions, and the availability of adequate insurance coverage;

The impact of existing and future laws (including, but not limited to, the Tax Cuts and Job Acts of 2017), regulations, the regulatory environment, environmental liabilities, and litigation, as well as our ability to obtain necessary permits and approvals and achieve favorable rate proceeding outcomes;

Our costs and funding obligations for defined benefit pension plans and other postretirement benefit plans;

Changes in maintenance and construction costs;

Changes in the current geopolitical situation;

Our exposure to the credit risk of our customers and counterparties;

Risks related to financing, including restrictions stemming from debt agreements, future changes in credit ratings as determined by nationally recognized credit rating agencies, and the availability and cost of capital;

The amount of cash distributions from and capital requirements of our investments and joint ventures in which we participate;

Risks associated with weather and natural phenomena, including climate conditions and physical damage to our facilities;



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Acts of terrorism, including cybersecurity threats, and related disruptions;

Additional risks described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Given the uncertainties and risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement, we caution investors not to unduly rely on our forward-looking statements. We disclaim any obligations to and do not intend to update the above list or to announce publicly the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking statements to reflect future events or developments.

In addition to causing our actual results to differ, the factors listed above and referred to below may cause our intentions to change from those statements of intention set forth in this report. Such changes in our intentions may also cause our results to differ. We may change our intentions, at any time and without notice, based upon changes in such factors, our assumptions, or otherwise.

Because forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, we caution that there are important factors, in addition to those listed above, that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These factors are described in the following section.
RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the following risk factors in addition to the other information in this report. Each of these factors could adversely affect our business, prospects, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, and, in some cases our reputation. The occurrence of any of such risks could also adversely affect the value of an investment in our securities.

Risks Related to Our Business

The financial condition of our natural gas transportation and midstream businesses is dependent on the continued availability of natural gas supplies in the supply basins that we access and demand for those supplies in the markets we serve.

Our ability to maintain and expand our natural gas transportation and midstream businesses depends on the level of drilling and production by third parties in our supply basins. Production from existing wells and natural gas supply basins with access to our pipeline and gathering systems will naturally decline over time. The amount of natural gas reserves underlying these existing wells may also be less than anticipated, and the rate at which production from these reserves declines may be greater than anticipated. We do not obtain independent evaluations of natural gas reserves connected to our systems and processing facilities. Accordingly, we do not have independent estimates of total reserves dedicated to our systems or the anticipated life of such reserves. In addition, low prices for natural gas, regulatory limitations, or the lack of available capital could adversely affect the development and production of additional natural gas reserves, the installation of gathering, storage, and pipeline transportation facilities and the import and export of natural gas supplies. Localized low natural gas prices in one or more of our existing supply basins, whether caused by a lack of infrastructure or otherwise, could also result in depressed natural gas production in such basins and limit the supply of natural gas made available to us. The competition for natural gas supplies to serve other markets could also reduce the amount of natural gas supply for our customers. A failure to obtain access to sufficient natural gas supplies will adversely impact our ability to maximize the capacities of our gathering, transportation, and processing facilities.

Demand for our services is dependent on the demand for gas in the markets we serve. Alternative fuel sources such as electricity, coal, fuel oils, or nuclear energy, as well as technological advances and renewable sources of energy, could reduce demand for natural gas in our markets and have an adverse effect on our business.

A failure to obtain access to sufficient natural gas supplies or a reduction in demand for our services in the markets we serve could result in impairments of our assets and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.


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Prices for natural gas, NGLs, oil, and other commodities, are volatile and this volatility has and could continue to adversely affect our financial results, cash flows, access to capital, and ability to maintain our existing businesses.

Our revenues, operating results, future rate of growth, and the value of certain components of our businesses depend primarily upon the prices of natural gas, NGLs, oil, or other commodities, and the differences between prices of these commodities and could be materially adversely affected by an extended period of current low commodity prices, or a further decline in commodity prices. Price volatility has and could continue to impact both the amount we receive for our products and services and the volume of products and services we sell. Prices affect the amount of cash flow available for capital expenditures and our ability to borrow money or raise additional capital. Price volatility has and could continue to have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows.

The markets for natural gas, NGLs, oil, and other commodities are likely to continue to be volatile. Wide fluctuations in prices might result from one or more factors beyond our control, including:

Worldwide and domestic supplies of and demand for natural gas, NGLs, oil, and related commodities;

Turmoil in the Middle East and other producing regions;

The activities of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries;

The level of consumer demand;

The price and availability of other types of fuels or feedstocks;

The availability of pipeline capacity;

Supply disruptions, including plant outages and transportation disruptions;

The price and quantity of foreign imports of natural gas and oil;

Domestic and foreign governmental regulations and taxes;

The credit of participants in the markets where products are bought and sold.

We are exposed to the credit risk of our customers and counterparties, including Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, and our credit risk management will not be able to completely eliminate such risk.

We are subject to the risk of loss resulting from nonpayment and/or nonperformance by our customers and counterparties in the ordinary course of our business. Generally, our customers are rated investment grade, are otherwise considered creditworthy, or are required to make prepayments or provide security to satisfy credit concerns. However, our credit procedures and policies cannot completely eliminate customer and counterparty credit risk. Our customers and counterparties include industrial customers, local distribution companies, natural gas producers, and marketers whose creditworthiness may be suddenly and disparately impacted by, among other factors, commodity price volatility, deteriorating energy market conditions, and public and regulatory opposition to energy producing activities. In a low commodity price environment certain of our customers could be negatively impacted, causing them significant economic stress including, in some cases, to file for bankruptcy protection or to renegotiate contracts. To the extent one or more of our key customers commences bankruptcy proceedings, our contracts with the customers may be subject to rejection under applicable provisions of the United States Bankruptcy Code, or may be renegotiated. Further, during any such bankruptcy proceeding, prior to assumption, rejection or renegotiation of such contracts, the bankruptcy court may temporarily authorize the payment of value for our services less than contractually required, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows. For example, Chesapeake


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Energy Corporation and its affiliates, which accounted for approximately 10 percent of our 2017 consolidated revenues, have experienced significant, negative financial results due to sustained low commodity prices. If we fail to adequately assess the creditworthiness of existing or future customers and counterparties or otherwise do not take or are unable to take sufficient mitigating actions, including obtaining sufficient collateral, deterioration in their creditworthiness, and any resulting increase in nonpayment and/or nonperformance by them could cause us to write down or write off accounts receivable. Such write-downs or write-offs could negatively affect our operating results in the periods in which they occur, and, if significant, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

We may not be able to grow or effectively manage our growth.

As part of our growth strategy, we consider acquisition opportunities and engage in significant capital projects. We have both a project lifecycle process and an investment evaluation process. These are processes we use to identify, evaluate, and execute on acquisition opportunities and capital projects. We may not always have sufficient and accurate information to identify and value potential opportunities and risks or our investment evaluation process may be incomplete or flawed. Regarding potential acquisitions, suitable acquisition candidates may not be available on terms and conditions we find acceptable or, where multiple parties are trying to acquire an acquisition candidate, we may not be chosen as the acquirer. If we are able to acquire a targeted business, we may not be able to successfully integrate the acquired businesses and realize anticipated benefits in a timely manner.

Our growth may also be dependent upon the construction of new natural gas gathering, transportation, compression, processing or treating pipelines, and facilities, NGL transportation, or fractionation or storage facilities as well as the expansion of existing facilities. In the current environment, we may face political opposition by landowners, environmental activists, and others resulting in the delay and/or denial of required governmental permits. Additional risks associated with construction may include the inability to obtain rights-of-way, skilled labor, equipment, materials, and other required inputs in a timely manner such that projects are completed, on time or at all, and the risk that construction cost overruns could cause total project costs to exceed budgeted costs. Additional risks associated with growing our business include, among others, that:

Changing circumstances and deviations in variables could negatively impact our investment analysis, including our projections of revenues, earnings, and cash flow relating to potential investment targets, resulting in outcomes which are materially different than anticipated;

We could be required to contribute additional capital to support acquired businesses or assets;

We may assume liabilities that were not disclosed to us, that exceed our estimates and for which contractual protections are either unavailable or prove inadequate;

Acquisitions could disrupt our ongoing business, distract management, divert financial and operational resources from existing operations and make it difficult to maintain our current business standards, controls, and procedures;

Acquisitions and capital projects may require substantial new capital, including the issuance of debt or equity, and we may not be able to access capital markets or obtain acceptable terms.

If realized, any of these risks could have an adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations, including the possible impairment of our assets, or cash flows.

We may face opposition to the construction and operation of our pipelines and facilities from various groups.

We may face opposition to the construction and operation of our pipelines and facilities from environmental groups, landowners, tribal groups, local groups and other advocates. Such opposition could take many forms, including organized protests, attempts to block or sabotage our operations, intervention in regulatory or administrative proceedings involving


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our assets, or lawsuits or other actions designed to prevent, disrupt or delay the operation of our assets and business. In addition, acts of sabotage or eco-terrorism could cause significant damage or injury to people, property or the environment or lead to extended interruptions of our operations. Any such event that interrupts the revenues generated by our operations, or which causes us to make significant expenditures not covered by insurance, could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Holders of our common stock may not receive dividends in the amount expected or any dividends.

We may not have sufficient cash each quarter to pay dividends or maintain current or expected levels of dividends. The actual amount of cash we dividend may fluctuate from quarter to quarter and will depend on various factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:

The amount of cash that WPZ and our other subsidiaries distribute to us;

The amount of cash we generate from our operations, our working capital needs, our level of capital expenditures, and our ability to borrow;

The restrictions contained in our indentures and credit facility and our debt service requirements;

The cost of acquisitions, if any.

A failure either to pay dividends or to pay dividends at expected levels could result in a loss of investor confidence, reputational damage, and a decrease in the value of our stock price.

Our cash flow is heavily dependent on the earnings and distributions of WPZ.

Our partnership interest in WPZ is our largest cash-generating asset. Therefore, we are indirectly exposed to all of the risks to which WPZ is subject, as our cash flow is heavily dependent upon the ability of WPZ to make distributions to its partners. A significant decline in WPZ’s earnings and/or distributions would have a corresponding negative impact on us.

One of our subsidiaries acts as the general partner of a publicly traded limited partnership, Williams Partners L.P. As such, this subsidiary’s operations may involve a greater risk of liability than ordinary business operations.

One of our subsidiaries acts as the general partner of WPZ, a publicly traded limited partnership. This subsidiary may be deemed to have undertaken contractual obligations with respect to WPZ as the general partner and to the limited partners of WPZ. Activities, determined to involve such obligations to other persons or entities typically involve a higher standard of conduct than ordinary business operations and therefore may involve a greater risk of liability, particularly when a conflict of interest is found to exist. Our control of the general partner of WPZ may increase the possibility of claims of breach of such duties, including claims brought due to conflicts of interest (including conflicts of interest that may arise between WPZ, on the one hand, and its general partner and that general partner’s affiliates, including us, on the other hand). Any liability resulting from such claims could be material.

Our industry is highly competitive and increased competitive pressure could adversely affect our business and operating results.

We have numerous competitors in all aspects of our businesses, and additional competitors may enter our markets. Any current or future competitor that delivers natural gas, NGLs, or other commodities into the areas that we operate could offer transportation services that are more desirable to shippers than those we provide because of price, location, facilities or other factors. In addition, current or potential competitors may make strategic acquisitions or have greater financial resources than we do, which could affect our ability to make strategic investments or acquisitions. Our competitors may be able to respond more quickly to new laws or regulations or emerging technologies or to devote greater resources to the construction, expansion, or refurbishment of their facilities than we can. Failure to successfully


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compete against current and future competitors could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and cash flows.

We do not own all of the interests in the Partially Owned Entities, which could adversely affect our ability to operate and control these assets in a manner beneficial to us.

Because we do not control the Partially Owned Entities, we may have limited flexibility to control the operation of or cash distributions received from these entities. The Partially Owned Entities’ organizational documents generally require distribution of their available cash to their members on a quarterly basis; however, in each case, available cash is reduced, in part, by reserves appropriate for operating the businesses. As of December 31, 2017, our investments in the Partially Owned Entities accounted for approximately 7 percent of our total consolidated assets. Conflicts of interest may arise in the future between us, on the one hand, and our Partially Owned Entities, on the other hand, with regard to our Partially Owned Entities’ governance, business, or operations. If a conflict of interest arises between us and a Partially Owned Entity, other owners may control the Partially Owned Entity’s actions with respect to such matter (subject to certain limitations), which could be detrimental to our business. Any future disagreements with the other co-owners of these assets could adversely affect our ability to respond to changing economic or industry conditions, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

We will conduct certain operations through joint ventures that may limit our operational flexibility or require us to make additional capital contributions.

Some of our operations are conducted through joint venture arrangements, and we may enter additional joint ventures in the future. In a joint venture arrangement, we have less operational flexibility, as actions must be taken in accordance with the applicable governing provisions of the joint venture. In certain cases:

We cannot control the amount of capital expenditures that we are required to fund with respect to these operations;

We are dependent on third parties to fund their required share of capital expenditures;

We may be subject to restrictions or limitations on our ability to sell or transfer our interests in the jointly owned assets;

We may be forced to offer rights of participation to other joint venture participants in the area of mutual interest;

We have limited ability to influence or control certain day to day activities affecting the operations.

In addition, joint venture participants may have obligations that are important to the success of the joint venture, such as the obligation to pay substantial carried costs pertaining to the joint venture and to pay their share of capital and other costs of the joint venture, the performance of which is outside our control. Similarly, if we fail to make a required capital contribution under the applicable governing provisions of a joint venture arrangement, we could be deemed to be in default under the joint venture agreement. Joint venture partners may be in a position to take actions contrary to instructions or requests or contrary to our policies or objectives, and disputes between us and our joint venture partners may result in delays, litigation or operational impasses.

The risks described above or the failure to continue joint ventures, or to resolve disagreements with joint venture partners could adversely affect our ability to conduct our operations that are the subject of any joint venture, which could in turn negatively affect our financial condition and results of operations.



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We may not be able to replace, extend, or add additional customer contracts or contracted volumes on favorable terms, or at all, which could affect our financial condition, the amount of cash available to pay dividends, and our ability to grow.

We rely on a limited number of customers and producers for a significant portion of our revenues and supply of natural gas and NGLs. Although many of our customers and suppliers are subject to long-term contracts, if we are unable to replace or extend such contracts, add additional customers, or otherwise increase the contracted volumes of natural gas provided to us by current producers, in each case on favorable terms, if at all, our financial condition, growth plans, and the amount of cash available to pay dividends could be adversely affected. Our ability to replace, extend, or add additional customer or supplier contracts, or increase contracted volumes of natural gas from current producers, on favorable terms, or at all, is subject to a number of factors, some of which are beyond our control, including:

The level of existing and new competition in our businesses or from alternative sources, such as electricity, renewable resources, coal, fuel oils, or nuclear energy;

Natural gas and NGL prices, demand, availability, and margins in our markets. Higher prices for energy commodities related to our businesses could result in a decline in the demand for those commodities and, therefore, in customer contracts or throughput on our pipeline systems. Also, lower energy commodity prices could negatively impact our ability to maintain or achieve favorable contractual terms, including pricing, and could also result in a decline in the production of energy commodities resulting in reduced customer contracts, supply contracts, and throughput on our pipeline systems;

General economic, financial markets, and industry conditions;

The effects of regulation on us, our customers, and our contracting practices;

Our ability to understand our customers’ expectations, efficiently and reliably deliver high quality services and effectively manage customer relationships. The results of these efforts will impact our reputation and positioning in the market.

Certain of our gas pipeline services are subject to long-term, fixed-price contracts that are not subject to adjustment, even if our cost to perform such services exceeds the revenues received from such contracts.

Our gas pipelines provide some services pursuant to long-term, fixed-price contracts. It is possible that costs to perform services under such contracts will exceed the revenues our pipelines collect for their services. Although most of the services are priced at cost-based rates that are subject to adjustment in rate cases, under FERC policy, a regulated service provider and a customer may mutually agree to sign a contract for service at a “negotiated rate” that may be above or below the FERC regulated cost-based rate for that service. These “negotiated rate” contracts are not generally subject to adjustment for increased costs that could be produced by inflation or other factors relating to the specific facilities being used to perform the services.

Some of our businesses are exposed to supplier concentration risks arising from dependence on a single or a limited number of suppliers.

Some of our businesses may be dependent on a small number of suppliers for delivery of critical goods or services. If a supplier on which one of our businesses depends were to fail to timely supply required goods and services, such business may not be able to replace such goods and services in a timely manner or otherwise on favorable terms or at all. If our business is unable to adequately diversify or otherwise mitigate such supplier concentration risks and such risks were realized, such businesses could be subject to reduced revenues and increased expenses, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operation, and cash flows.



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Failure of our service providers or disruptions to our outsourcing relationships might negatively impact our ability to conduct our business.

Certain of our accounting and information technology services are currently provided by third-party vendors, and sometimes from service centers outside of the United States. Services provided pursuant to these agreements could be disrupted. Similarly, the expiration of such agreements or the transition of services between providers could lead to loss of institutional knowledge or service disruptions. Our reliance on others as service providers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

An impairment of our assets, including goodwill, property, plant, and equipment, intangible assets, and/or equity-method investments, could reduce our earnings.

GAAP requires us to test certain assets for impairment on either an annual basis or when events or circumstances occur which indicate that the carrying value of such assets might be impaired. The outcome of such testing could result in impairments of our assets including our goodwill, property, plant, and equipment, intangible assets, and/or equity method investments. Additionally, any asset monetizations could result in impairments if any assets are sold or otherwise exchanged for amounts less than their carrying value. If we determine that an impairment has occurred, we would be required to take an immediate noncash charge to earnings.

Our operations are subject to operational hazards and unforeseen interruptions.

There are operational risks associated with the gathering, transporting, storage, processing, and treating of natural gas, the fractionation, transportation, and storage of NGLs, and crude oil transportation and production handling, including:

Aging infrastructure and mechanical problems;

Damages to pipelines and pipeline blockages or other pipeline interruptions;

Uncontrolled releases of natural gas (including sour gas), NGLs, crude oil, or other products;

Collapse or failure of storage caverns;

Operator error;

Damage caused by third-party activity, such as operation of construction equipment;

Pollution and other environmental risks;

Fires, explosions, craterings, and blowouts;

Security risks, including cybersecurity;

Operating in a marine environment.

Any of these risks could result in loss of human life, personal injuries, significant damage to property, environmental pollution, impairment of our operations, loss of services to our customers, reputational damage, and substantial losses to us. The location of certain segments of our facilities in or near populated areas, including residential areas, commercial business centers, and industrial sites, could increase the level of damages resulting from these risks. An event such as those described above could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations, particularly if the event is not fully covered by insurance.



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We do not insure against all potential risks and losses and could be seriously harmed by unexpected liabilities or by the inability of our insurers to satisfy our claims.

In accordance with customary industry practice, we maintain insurance against some, but not all, risks and losses, and only at levels we believe to be appropriate. The occurrence of any risks not fully covered by our insurance could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows and our ability to repay our debt.

Our assets and operations, as well as our customers’ assets and operations, can be adversely affected by weather and other natural phenomena.

Our assets and operations, especially those located offshore, and our customers’ assets and operations can be adversely affected by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, tornadoes, fires, and other natural phenomena and weather conditions, including extreme or unseasonable temperatures, making it more difficult for us to realize the historic rates of return associated with our assets and operations. A significant disruption in our or our customers’ operations or a significant liability for which we are not fully insured could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

Our business could be negatively impacted by acts of terrorism and security threats, including cybersecurity threats, and related disruptions.

Given the volatile nature of the commodities we transport, process, store, and sell, our assets and the assets of our customers and others in our industry may be targets of terrorist activities. A terrorist attack could create significant price volatility, disrupt our business, limit our access to capital markets, or cause significant harm to our operations, such as full or partial disruption to our ability to produce, process, transport, or distribute natural gas, NGLs, or other commodities. Acts of terrorism, as well as events occurring in response to or in connection with acts of terrorism, could cause environmental repercussions that could result in a significant decrease in revenues or significant reconstruction or remediation costs, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

We rely on our information technology infrastructure to process, transmit, and store electronic information, including information we use to safely operate our assets. While we believe that we maintain appropriate information security policies, practices, and protocols, we face cybersecurity and other security threats to our information technology infrastructure, which could include threats to our operational industrial control systems and safety systems that operate our pipelines, plants, and assets. We could face unlawful attempts to gain access to our information technology infrastructure, including coordinated attacks from hackers, whether state-sponsored groups, “hacktivists”, or private individuals. The age, operating systems, or condition of our current information technology infrastructure and software assets and our ability to maintain and upgrade such assets could affect our ability to resist cybersecurity threats. We could also face attempts to gain access to information related to our assets through attempts to obtain unauthorized access by targeting acts of deception against individuals with legitimate access to physical locations or information. Breaches in our information technology infrastructure or physical facilities, or other disruptions including those arising from theft, vandalism, fraud, or unethical conduct, could result in damage to our assets, unnecessary waste, safety incidents, damage to the environment, reputational damage, potential liability, or the loss of contracts, and have a material adverse effect on our operations, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

If third-party pipelines and other facilities interconnected to our pipelines and facilities become unavailable to transport natural gas and NGLs or to treat natural gas, our revenues could be adversely affected.

We depend upon third-party pipelines and other facilities that provide delivery options to and from our pipelines and facilities for the benefit of our customers. Because we do not own these third-party pipelines or other facilities, their continuing operation is not within our control. If these pipelines or facilities were to become temporarily or permanently unavailable for any reason, or if throughput were reduced because of testing, line repair, damage to pipelines or facilities, reduced operating pressures, lack of capacity, increased credit requirements or rates charged by such pipelines or facilities or other causes, we and our customers would have reduced capacity to transport, store or deliver


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natural gas or NGL products to end use markets or to receive deliveries of mixed NGLs, thereby reducing our revenues. Any temporary or permanent interruption at any key pipeline interconnect or in operations on third-party pipelines or facilities that would cause a material reduction in volumes transported on our pipelines or our gathering systems or processed, fractionated, treated, or stored at our facilities could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

Our operating results for certain components of our business might fluctuate on a seasonal basis.

Revenues from certain components of our business can have seasonal characteristics. In many parts of the country, demand for natural gas and other fuels peaks during the winter. As a result, our overall operating results in the future might fluctuate substantially on a seasonal basis. Demand for natural gas and other fuels could vary significantly from our expectations depending on the nature and location of our facilities and pipeline systems and the terms of our natural gas transportation arrangements relative to demand created by unusual weather patterns.

We do not own all of the land on which our pipelines and facilities are located, which could disrupt our operations.

We do not own all of the land on which our pipelines and facilities have been constructed. As such, we are subject to the possibility of increased costs to retain necessary land use. In those instances in which we do not own the land on which our facilities are located, we obtain the rights to construct and operate our pipelines and gathering systems on land owned by third parties and governmental agencies for a specific period of time. In addition, some of our facilities cross Native American lands pursuant to rights-of-way of limited terms. We may not have the right of eminent domain over land owned by Native American tribes. Our loss of these rights, through our inability to renew right-of-way contracts or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

Our business could be negatively impacted as a result of stockholder activism.

In recent years, stockholder activism, including threatened or actual proxy contests, has been directed against numerous public companies, including ours. During the latter part of fiscal year 2016, we were the target of a proxy contest from a stockholder activist, which resulted in our incurring significant costs. If stockholder activists were to again take or threaten to take actions against the Company or seek to involve themselves in the governance, strategic direction or operations of the Company, we could incur significant costs as well as the distraction of management, which could have an adverse effect on our business or financial results. In addition, actions of activist stockholders may cause significant fluctuations in our stock price based on temporary or speculative market perceptions or other factors that do not necessarily reflect the underlying fundamentals and prospects of our business.

Litigation pertaining to the ETC Merger, including litigation related to Energy Transfer Equity, L.P.’s (ETE’s) termination of and failure to close the ETC Merger, may negatively impact our business and operations.

We have incurred and may continue to incur additional costs in connection with the prosecution, defense or settlement of the currently pending and any future litigation relating to the ETC Merger or ETE’s termination of and failure to close the ETC Merger. We cannot predict the outcome of this litigation. Such litigation may also create a distraction for our management team and board of directors and require time and attention. In addition, any litigation relating to the ETC Merger or ETE’s termination of and failure to close the ETC Merger could, among other things, adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

Our costs and funding obligations for our defined benefit pension plans and costs for our other postretirement benefit plans are affected by factors beyond our control.

We have defined benefit pension plans covering substantially all of our U.S. employees and other postretirement benefit plans covering certain eligible participants. The timing and amount of our funding requirements under the defined benefit pension plans depend upon a number of factors that we control, including changes to pension plan benefits, as well as factors outside of our control, such as asset returns, interest rates, and changes in pension laws.


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Changes to these and other factors that can significantly increase our funding requirements could have a significant adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

Failure to attract and retain an appropriately qualified workforce could negatively impact our results of operations.

Events such as an aging workforce without appropriate replacements, mismatch of skill sets to future needs, or unavailability of contract labor may lead to operating challenges such as lack of resources, loss of knowledge, and a lengthy time period associated with skill development, including with the workforce needs associated with projects and ongoing operations. Failure to hire and adequately obtain replacement employees, including the ability to transfer significant internal historical knowledge and expertise to the new employees, or the future availability and cost of contract labor may adversely affect our ability to manage and operate the businesses. If we are unable to successfully attract and retain an appropriately qualified workforce, results of operations could be negatively impacted.

If there is a determination that the spin-off of WPX Energy, Inc. (WPX) stock to our stockholders is taxable for U.S. federal income tax purposes because the facts, representations or undertakings underlying a U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) private letter ruling or a tax opinion are incorrect or for any other reason, then we and our stockholders could incur significant income tax liabilities.

In connection with our original separation plan that called for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock of WPX and a subsequent spin-off of our remaining shares of WPX to our stockholders, we obtained a private letter ruling from the IRS and an opinion of our outside tax advisor, to the effect that the distribution by us of WPX shares to our stockholders, and any related restructuring transaction undertaken by us, would not result in recognition for U.S. federal income tax purposes, of income, gain or loss to us or our stockholders under section 355 and section 368(a)(1)(D) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (Code), except for cash payments made to our stockholders in lieu of fractional shares of WPX common stock. In addition, we received an opinion from our outside tax advisor to the effect that the spin-off pursuant to our revised separation plan which was ultimately consummated on December 31, 2011, which did not involve an IPO of WPX shares, would not result in the recognition, for federal income tax purposes, of income, gain, or loss to us or our stockholders under section 355 and section 368(a)(1)(D) of the Code, except for cash payments made to our stockholders in lieu of fractional shares of WPX. The private letter ruling and opinion have relied on or will rely on certain facts, representations, and undertakings from us and WPX regarding the past and future conduct of the companies’ respective businesses and other matters. If any of these facts, representations, or undertakings are, or become, incorrect or are not otherwise satisfied, including as a result of certain significant changes in the stock ownership of us or WPX after the spin-off, or if the IRS disagrees with any such facts and representations upon audit, we and our stockholders may not be able to rely on the private letter ruling or the opinion of our tax advisor and could be subject to significant income tax liabilities.
The WPX spin-off may expose us to potential liabilities arising out of state and federal fraudulent conveyance laws and legal dividend requirements that we did not assume in our agreements with WPX.

The spin-off is subject to review under various state and federal fraudulent conveyance laws. A court could deem the spin-off or certain internal restructuring transactions undertaken by us in connection with the separation to be a fraudulent conveyance or transfer. Fraudulent conveyances or transfers are defined to include transfers made or obligations incurred with the actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud current or future creditors or transfers made or obligations incurred for less than reasonably equivalent value when the debtor was insolvent, or that rendered the debtor insolvent, inadequately capitalized or unable to pay its debts as they become due. A court could void the transactions or impose substantial liabilities upon us, which could adversely affect our financial condition and our results of operations. Whether a transaction is a fraudulent conveyance or transfer will vary depending upon the jurisdiction whose law is being applied. Under the separation and distribution agreement between us and WPX, from and after the spin-off, each of WPX and we are responsible for the debts, liabilities, and other obligations related to the business or businesses which each owns and operates. Although we do not expect to be liable for any such obligations not expressly assumed by us pursuant to the separation and distribution agreement, it is possible that a court would disregard the allocation agreed to between the parties, and require that we assume responsibility for obligations allocated to WPX, particularly if WPX were to refuse or were unable to pay or perform the subject allocated obligations.



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Risks Related to Financing Our Business

Downgrades of our credit ratings, which are determined outside of our control by independent third parties, impact our liquidity, access to capital, and our costs of doing business.

Downgrades of our credit ratings increase our cost of borrowing and could require us to provide collateral to our counterparties, negatively impacting our available liquidity. In addition, our ability to access capital markets could continue to be limited by the downgrading of our credit ratings.

Credit rating agencies perform independent analysis when assigning credit ratings. This analysis includes a number of criteria such as, business composition, market, and operational risks, as well as various financial tests. Credit rating agencies continue to review the criteria for industry sectors and various debt ratings and may make changes to those criteria from time to time. Credit ratings are subject to revision or withdrawal at any time by the ratings agencies. As of the date of the filing of this report, we have been assigned below investment-grade credit ratings by each of the three credit ratings agencies.

Our ability to obtain credit in the future could be affected by WPZ’s credit ratings.

A substantial portion of our operations are conducted through, and our cash flows are substantially derived from, distributions paid to us by WPZ. Due to our relationship with WPZ, our ability to obtain credit will be affected by WPZ’s credit ratings. If WPZ were to experience a deterioration in its credit standing or financial condition, our access to capital, and our ratings could be adversely affected. Any future downgrading of a WPZ credit rating could also result in a downgrading of our credit rating. A downgrading of a WPZ credit rating could limit our ability to obtain financing in the future upon favorable terms, if at all.

Difficult conditions in the global financial markets and the economy in general could negatively affect our business and results of operations.

Our businesses may be negatively impacted by adverse economic conditions or future disruptions in global financial markets. Included among these potential negative impacts are industrial or economic contraction leading to reduced energy demand and lower prices for our products and services and increased difficulty in collecting amounts owed to us by our customers. If financing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to implement our business plans or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures. In addition, financial markets have periodically been affected by concerns over U.S. fiscal and monetary policies. These concerns, as well as actions taken by the U.S. federal government in response to these concerns, could significantly and adversely impact the global and U.S. economies and financial markets, which could negatively impact us in the manner described above.

Restrictions in our debt agreements and the amount of our indebtedness may affect our future financial and operating flexibility.

Our total outstanding long-term debt (including current portion) as of December 31, 2017, was $20.9 billion.

The agreements governing our indebtedness contain covenants that restrict our and our material subsidiaries’ ability to incur certain liens to support indebtedness and our ability to merge or consolidate or sell all or substantially all of our assets in certain circumstances. In addition, certain of our debt agreements contain various covenants that restrict or limit, among other things, our ability to make certain distributions during the continuation of an event of default, the ability of our subsidiaries to incur additional debt, and our, and our material subsidiaries’, ability to enter into certain affiliate transactions and certain restrictive agreements. Certain of our debt agreements also contain, and those we enter into in the future may contain, financial covenants, and other limitations with which we will need to comply.

Our debt service obligations and the covenants described above could have important consequences. For example, they could:



32




Make it more difficult for us to satisfy our obligations with respect to our indebtedness, which could in turn result in an event of default on such indebtedness;

Impair our ability to obtain additional financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, general corporate purposes, or other purposes;

Diminish our ability to withstand a continued or future downturn in our business or the economy generally;

Require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to debt service payments, thereby reducing the availability of cash for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, the payments of dividends, general corporate purposes, or other purposes;

Limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate, including limiting our ability to expand or pursue our business activities and preventing us from engaging in certain transactions that might otherwise be considered beneficial to us.

Our ability to comply with our debt covenants, to repay, extend, or refinance our existing debt obligations and to obtain future credit will depend primarily on our operating performance. Our ability to refinance existing debt obligations or obtain future credit will also depend upon the current conditions in the credit markets and the availability of credit generally. If we are unable to comply with these covenants, meet our debt service obligations, or obtain future credit on favorable terms, or at all, we could be forced to restructure or refinance our indebtedness, seek additional equity capital or sell assets. We may be unable to obtain financing or sell assets on satisfactory terms, or at all.

Our failure to comply with the covenants in the documents governing our indebtedness could result in events of default, which could render such indebtedness due and payable. We may not have sufficient liquidity to repay our indebtedness in such circumstances. In addition, cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions in our debt agreements could cause a default or acceleration to have a wider impact on our liquidity than might otherwise arise from a default or acceleration of a single debt instrument. For more information regarding our debt agreements, please read Note 13 – Debt, Banking Arrangements, and Leases of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Increases in interest rates could adversely impact our share price, our ability to issue equity or incur debt for acquisitions or other purposes, and our ability to make cash dividends at our intended levels.
Interest rates may increase in the future. As a result, interest rates on future credit facilities and debt offerings could be higher than current levels, causing our financing costs to increase accordingly. As with other yield-oriented securities, our share price will be impacted by the level of our dividends and implied dividend yield. The dividend yield is often used by investors to compare and rank yield-oriented securities for investment decision-making purposes. Therefore, changes in interest rates, either positive or negative, may affect the yield requirements of investors who invest in our shares, and a rising interest rate environment could have an adverse impact on our share price and our ability to issue equity or incur debt for acquisitions or other purposes and to pay cash dividends at our intended levels.

Our hedging activities might not be effective and could increase the volatility of our results.

In an effort to manage our financial exposure related to commodity price and market fluctuations, we have entered, and may in the future enter into contracts to hedge certain risks associated with our assets and operations. In these hedging activities, we have used, and may in the future use, fixed-price, forward, physical purchase, and sales contracts, futures, financial swaps, and option contracts traded in the over-the-counter markets or on exchanges. Nevertheless, no single hedging arrangement can adequately address all risks present in a given contract. For example, a forward contract that would be effective in hedging commodity price volatility risks would not hedge the contract’s counterparty credit or performance risk. Therefore, unhedged risks will always continue to exist. While we attempt to manage counterparty credit risk within guidelines established by our credit policy, we may not be able to successfully manage all credit risk and as such, future cash flows and results of operations could be impacted by counterparty default.



33




Risks Related to Regulations

The natural gas sales, transportation, and storage operations of our gas pipelines are subject to regulation by the FERC, which could have an adverse impact on their ability to establish transportation and storage rates that would allow them to recover the full cost of operating their respective pipelines, including a reasonable rate of return.

In addition to regulation by other federal, state, and local regulatory authorities, under the Natural Gas Act of 1938, interstate pipeline transportation and storage service is subject to regulation by the FERC. Federal regulation extends to such matters as:

Transportation and sale for resale of natural gas in interstate commerce;

Rates, operating terms, types of services, and conditions of service;

Certification and construction of new interstate pipelines and storage facilities;

Acquisition, extension, disposition, or abandonment of existing interstate pipelines and storage facilities;

Accounts and records;

Depreciation and amortization policies;

Relationships with affiliated companies who are involved in marketing functions of the natural gas business;

Market manipulation in connection with interstate sales, purchases, or transportation of natural gas.

Regulatory or administrative actions in these areas, including successful complaints or protests against the rates of the gas pipelines, can affect our business in many ways, including decreasing tariff rates and revenues, decreasing volumes in our pipelines, increasing our costs, and otherwise altering the profitability of our pipeline business.

The operation of our businesses might also be adversely affected by regulatory proceedings, changes in government regulations or in their interpretation or implementation, or the introduction of new laws or regulations applicable to our businesses or our customers.

Public and regulatory scrutiny of the energy industry has resulted in the proposal and/or implementation of increased regulations. Such scrutiny has also resulted in various inquiries, investigations, and court proceedings, including litigation of energy industry matters. Both the shippers on our pipelines and regulators have rights to challenge the rates we charge under certain circumstances. Any successful challenge could materially affect our results of operations.

Certain inquiries, investigations, and court proceedings are ongoing. Adverse effects may continue as a result of the uncertainty of ongoing inquiries, investigations, and court proceedings, or additional inquiries and proceedings by federal or state regulatory agencies or private plaintiffs. In addition, we cannot predict the outcome of any of these inquiries or whether these inquiries will lead to additional legal proceedings against us, civil or criminal fines and/or penalties, or other regulatory action, including legislation, which might be materially adverse to the operation of our business and our results of operations or increase our operating costs in other ways. Current legal proceedings or other matters, including environmental matters, suits, regulatory appeals, and similar matters might result in adverse decisions against us which, among other outcomes, could result in the imposition of substantial penalties and fines and could damage our reputation. The result of such adverse decisions, either individually or in the aggregate, could be material and may not be covered fully or at all by insurance.



34




In addition, existing regulations, including those pertaining to financial assurances to be provided by our businesses in respect of potential asset decommissioning and abandonment activities, might be revised, reinterpreted, or otherwise enforced in a manner which differs from prior regulatory action. New laws and regulations, including those pertaining to oil and gas hedging and cash collateral requirements, might also be adopted or become applicable to us, our customers, or our business activities. If new laws or regulations are imposed relating to oil and gas extraction, or if additional or revised levels of reporting, regulation, or permitting moratoria are required or imposed, including those related to hydraulic fracturing, the volumes of natural gas and other products that we transport, gather, process, and treat could decline, our compliance costs could increase, and our results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our operations are subject to environmental laws and regulations, including laws and regulations relating to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, which may expose us to significant costs, liabilities, and expenditures that could exceed our expectations.

Our operations are subject to extensive federal, state, tribal, and local laws and regulations governing environmental protection, endangered and threatened species, the discharge of materials into the environment, and the security of industrial facilities. Substantial costs, liabilities, delays, and other significant issues related to environmental laws and regulations are inherent in the gathering, transportation, storage, processing, and treating of natural gas, fractionation, transportation, and storage of NGLs, and crude oil transportation and production handling as well as waste disposal practices and construction activities. Failure to comply with these laws, regulations, and permits may result in the assessment of administrative, civil and/or criminal penalties, the imposition of remedial obligations, the imposition of stricter conditions on or revocation of permits, the issuance of injunctions limiting or preventing some or all of our operations, and delays or denials in granting permits.

Joint and several, strict liability may be incurred without regard to fault under certain environmental laws and regulations, for the remediation of contaminated areas and in connection with spills or releases of materials associated with natural gas, oil, and wastes on, under or from our properties and facilities. Private parties, including the owners of properties through which our pipeline and gathering systems pass and facilities where our wastes are taken for reclamation or disposal, may have the right to pursue legal actions to enforce compliance as well as to seek damages for noncompliance with environmental laws and regulations or for personal injury or property damage arising from our operations. Some sites at which we operate are located near current or former third-party hydrocarbon storage and processing or oil and natural gas operations or facilities, and there is a risk that contamination has migrated from those sites to ours.

We are generally responsible for all liabilities associated with the environmental condition of our facilities and assets, whether acquired or developed, regardless of when the liabilities arose and whether they are known or unknown. In connection with certain acquisitions and divestitures, we could acquire, or be required to provide indemnification against, environmental liabilities that could expose us to material losses, which may not be covered by insurance. In addition, the steps we could be required to take to bring certain facilities into compliance could be prohibitively expensive, and we might be required to shut down, divest or alter the operation of those facilities, which might cause us to incur losses.

In addition, climate change regulations and the costs associated with the regulation of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have the potential to affect our business. Regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency or the passage of new climate change laws or regulations could result in increased costs to operate and maintain our facilities, install new emission controls on our facilities, or administer and manage our GHG compliance program. If we are unable to recover or pass through a significant level of our costs related to complying with climate change regulatory requirements imposed on us, it could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. To the extent financial markets view climate change and GHG emissions as a financial risk, this could negatively impact our cost of and access to capital. Climate change and GHG regulation could also reduce demand for our services.

We expect that certain aspects of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law on December 22, 2017 (Tax Reform), including regulatory liabilities relating to reduced corporate federal income tax rates, could adversely impact our financial condition and our future financial results.


35





Certain of the rates we charge to our customers are subject to the rate-making policies of the FERC. These policies permit us to include in our cost-of-service an income tax allowance that includes a deferred income tax component. The recently enacted Tax Reform makes significant changes to the U.S. federal income tax rules applicable to both individuals and entities, including among other things, a reduction in corporate federal income tax rates. Although we expect the decreased federal income tax rates will require us to return amounts to certain customers for this item through future rates and have recognized a regulatory liability, the details of any regulatory implementation guidance remain uncertain.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Not applicable.
Item 2. Properties
Please read “Business” for a description of the location and general character of our principal physical properties. We generally own our facilities, although a substantial portion of our pipeline and gathering facilities is constructed and maintained pursuant to rights-of-way, easements, permits, licenses, or consents on and across properties owned by others.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Environmental
Certain reportable legal proceedings involving governmental authorities under federal, state, and local laws regulating the discharge of materials into the environment are described below. While it is not possible for us to predict the final outcome of the proceedings which are still pending, we do not anticipate a material effect on our consolidated financial position if we receive an unfavorable outcome in any one or more of such proceedings.
On June 13, 2013, an explosion and fire occurred at our formerly owned Geismar olefins plant and rendered the facility temporarily inoperable (Geismar Incident). On October 21, 2013, the EPA issued an Inspection Report pursuant to the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program following its inspection of the facility on June 24 through June 28, 2013. The report notes the EPA’s preliminary determinations about the facility’s documentation regarding process safety, process hazard analysis, as well as operating procedures, employee training, and other matters. On June 16, 2014, we received a request for information related to the Geismar Incident from the EPA under Section 114 of the Clean Air Act to which we responded on August 13, 2014. The EPA could issue penalties pertaining to final determinations.
On February 21, 2017, we received notice from the Environmental Enforcement Section of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding certain alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at our Moundsville facility as set forth in a Notice of Noncompliance issued by the EPA on January 14, 2016. The notice includes an offer to avoid further legal action on the alleged violations by paying $2 million. In discussion with the DOJ and the EPA, the EPA has indicated its belief that additional similar violations have occurred at our Oak Grove facility and has expressed interest in pursuing a global settlement. On January 19, 2018, we received an offer from the DOJ to globally settle the government’s claim for civil penalties associated with the alleged violations at both the Moundsville and the Oak Grove facilities for $1.955 million. We are currently evaluating the penalty assessment and the proposed global settlement offer and will respond to the agencies.
On May 5, 2017, we entered into a Consent Order with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division (GADNR) pertaining to alleged violations of the Georgia Water Quality Control Act and associated rules arising from a permit issued by GADNR for construction of the Dalton Project. Pursuant to the Consent Order, we paid a fine of $168,750 and agreed to perform a Corrective Action Order to remedy the alleged violations.
On January 19, 2018, we received notice from the PHMSA regarding certain alleged violations of PHMSA regulations in connection with a fire and release of liquid ethane that occurred at our Houston Meter Station located near Houston, Washington County, PA on December 24, 2014. The Notice of Probable Violation and Proposed Civil Penalty issued by PHMSA alleges failure to timely notify the National Response Center of a release of a hazardous


36




liquid resulting in a fire or explosion and failure to verify that the facility was constructed, inspected, tested, and calibrated in accordance with comprehensive written specifications or standards and proposes a total civil penalty of $174,100. We are currently evaluating the penalty assessment and will respond to the agency.
Other environmental matters called for by this Item are described under the caption “Environmental Matters” in Note 17 – Contingent Liabilities and Commitments of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included under Part II, Item 8 Financial Statements of this report, which information is incorporated by reference into this Item.
Other Litigation
The additional information called for by this Item is provided in Note 17 – Contingent Liabilities and Commitments of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included under Part II, Item 8 Financial Statements of this report, which information is incorporated by reference into this Item.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.



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Executive Officers of the Registrant
The name, age, period of service, and title of each of our executive officers as of February 22, 2018, are listed below. Williams Partners L.P. merged with ACMP in February 2015 (the ACMP Merger). ACMP was the surviving entity in the ACMP Merger and changed its name to Williams Partners L.P. References in the biographical information below to (a) “Pre-merger WPZ” will mean Williams Partners L.P. prior to the ACMP Merger and (b) “ACMP/WPZ” will refer to both ACMP prior to and after the ACMP Merger, when it changed its name to Williams Partners L.P.
Alan S. Armstrong
Director, Chief Executive Officer, and President
 
Age: 55
 
Position held since January 2011.
 
Mr. Armstrong has served as our Chief Executive Officer and President and a director of Williams since January 2011. Mr.  Armstrong has served as a director of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since 2012, as Chief Executive Officer of ACMP/WPZ since December 31, 2014, and as Chairman of the Board of ACMP/WPZ since February 2, 2015. Mr. Armstrong also served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the general partner of Pre-merger WPZ from 2011 until the ACMP Merger, as Senior Vice President - Midstream of Pre-merger WPZ from 2010 to 2011, and a director and Chief Operating Officer of Pre-merger WPZ from 2005 to 2010. From 2002 to 2011, Mr. Armstrong served as Williams’ Senior Vice President - Midstream and acted as president of our midstream business. From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Armstrong was Vice President, Gathering and Processing in our midstream business and from 1998 to 1999 was Vice President, Commercial Development. Mr. Armstrong has served as a director of BOK Financial Corporation, a financial services company, since 2013.


Walter J. Bennett
Senior Vice President - West
 
Age: 48
 
Position held since January 2015.
 
Mr. Bennett has served as our Senior Vice President - West since January 2015. Mr. Bennett has served as Senior Vice President - West of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since December 2013 and as Senior Vice President - West of the general partner of Pre-merger WPZ from January 2015 until the ACMP Merger. Mr. Bennett previously served as a director of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ from February 2017 through November 2017. Mr. Bennett was formerly Chief Operating Officer of Chesapeake Midstream Development and served as Senior Vice President - Operations at Boardwalk Pipeline Partners.



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John D. Chandler
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
 
Age: 48
 
Position held since September 2017.
 
Mr. Chandler has served as our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since September 2017, and as a director of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since November 2017. Mr. Chandler most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Magellan GP, LLC, the general partner of Magellan Midstream Partners, LP from 2009 until his retirement in March 2014. From 2003 until 2009, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the general partner of Magellan Midstream Holdings, L.P. From 1992 until 2002, Mr. Chandler held various accounting and finance roles within Williams and MAPCO Inc., prior to its acquisition by Williams. Mr. Chandler has served as a director of Matrix Service Company since June 2017.


Micheal G. Dunn
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
 
Age: 52
 
Position held since February 2017.
 
Mr. Dunn has served as our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and as a director of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since February 2017. Previously, Mr. Dunn served as President of Questar Pipeline and as Executive Vice President of Questar Corporation from 2015 through 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Dunn served as President and Chief Executive Officer of PacifiCorp Energy from 2010 through 2015, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Earlier, Mr. Dunn was president of Kern River Gas Transmission Company, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy interstate natural gas pipeline subsidiary. He joined Kern River in 1990, having served in various leadership roles in the areas of operations, construction, engineering and information technology before being named President of Kern River in 2007. Mr. Dunn began his career with Williams as an operations engineer and spent 14 years with the company in a variety of technical and leadership roles.

Frank J. Ferazzi
Senior Vice President - Atlantic Gulf
 
Age: 61
 
Position held since June 2017
 
Mr. Ferazzi has served as our Senior Vice President - Atlantic-Gulf since June 2017. Previously, Mr. Ferazzi served as VP & GM Eastern Interstates from November 2014 through June 2017, and previously as VP & GM Transco from January 2013 through January 2015. Prior to that, Mr. Ferazzi served as VP Commercial Operations - Gas Pipeline from May 2010 through December 2012.



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John E. Poarch
Senior Vice President - Engineering Services
 
Age: 52
 
Position held since November 2017.
 
Mr. Poarch has served as our Senior Vice President - Engineering Services since November 2017. Previously, he served as VP Commercial West OA from March 2017 through November 2017, and before that, as VP Commercial & Business Development from January 2015 through March 2017. Previously, Mr. Poarch was the general manager for Access Midstream’s Eagle Ford operations.


James E. Scheel
Senior Vice President - Northeast G&P

 
Age: 53
 
Position held since January 2014.
 
Mr. Scheel has served as our Senior Vice President - Northeast G&P since January 2014. Mr. Scheel served as a director of ACMP/WPZ from the ACMP Merger until November 2017. Mr. Scheel served as a director of the Pre-merger WPZ general partner from 2012 until the ACMP Merger. Mr. Scheel served as a director of the Pre-merger ACMP general partner from December 2012 to February 2014. Previously, Mr. Scheel served as Senior Vice President - Corporate Strategic Development of Williams and the Pre-merger WPZ general partner from February 2012 to January 2014. Mr. Scheel served as Vice President of Business Development of Williams’ midstream business from January 2011 to February 2012.


Ted T. Timmermans
Vice President, Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer

 
Age: 61
 
Position held since July 2005.
 
Mr. Timmermans has served as our Vice President, Controller, and Chief Accounting Officer since July 2005. Mr. Timmermans has served in the same roles for the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since the ACMP Merger. Mr. Timmermans served as Chief Accounting Officer of WMZ from 2008 until its merger with Pre-Merger WPZ in 2010. Previously, Mr. Timmermans served as our Assistant Controller from 1998 to 2005.


T. Lane Wilson
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer

 
Age: 51
 
Position held since April 2017.
 
Mr. Wilson has served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer since April 2017. Prior to joining Williams, Mr. Wilson served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma from 2009 until he joined Williams in April 2017. Mr. Wilson previously served as a shareholder and member of the board of directors of the Hall Estill law firm from 1994 through 2008.



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Chad J. Zamarin
Senior Vice President - Corporate Strategic Development

 
Age: 41
 
Position held since June 2017.
 
Mr. Zamarin has served as our Senior Vice President - Corporate Strategic Development since June 2017. Mr. Zamarin has served as a director of the general partner of ACMP/WPZ since November 2017. Previously, he served as President, Pipeline and Midstream at Cheniere Energy from 2014 through 2017. Prior to joining Cheniere, Mr. Zamarin served as the Chief Operating Officer at NiSource Midstream, LLC and NiSource Energy Ventures, LLC, as well as the President of Pennant Midstream, LLC, a joint venture with Hilcorp Energy.


 
 


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PART II
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “WMB.” At the close of business on February 19, 2018, we had approximately 6,979 holders of record of our common stock. The high and low sales price ranges (New York Stock Exchange composite transactions) and dividends declared by quarter for each of the past two years are as follows:
 
High
 
Low
 
Dividend
2017
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
32.69

 
$
27.68

 
$
0.30

Second Quarter
31.25

 
27.65

 
0.30

Third Quarter
32.18

 
28.76

 
0.30

Fourth Quarter
30.72

 
26.82

 
0.30

2016
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter
$
26.68

 
$
10.22

 
$
0.64

Second Quarter
23.89

 
14.60

 
0.64

Third Quarter
31.43

 
19.68

 
0.20

Fourth Quarter
32.21

 
27.35

 
0.20

Some of our subsidiaries’ borrowing arrangements may limit the transfer of funds to us. These terms have not impeded, nor are they expected to impede, our ability to pay dividends. On February 21, 2018, our board of directors approved a regular quarterly dividend of $0.34 per share payable on March 26, 2018.
Performance Graph
Set forth below is a line graph comparing our cumulative total stockholder return on our common stock (assuming reinvestment of dividends) with the cumulative total return of the S&P 500 Stock Index and the Bloomberg Americas Pipelines Index for the period of five fiscal years commencing January 1, 2013. The Bloomberg Americas Pipelines Index is composed of Enbridge Inc., Kinder Morgan, Inc., TransCanada Corporation, ONEOK, Inc., Pembina Pipeline Corporation, Cheniere Energy, Inc., Targa Resources Corp., Inter Pipeline Ltd., Keyera Corp., AltaGas Ltd., Plains GP Holdings, L.P., and Williams. The graph below assumes an investment of $100 at the beginning of the period.
performancegraph4qtr2017rev1.jpg
 
2012
 
2013
 
2014
 
2015
 
2016
 
2017
The Williams Companies, Inc.
100.0
 
122.8
 
149.1
 
90.6
 
119.1
 
121.5
S&P 500 Index
100.0
 
132.4
 
150.5
 
152.5
 
170.8
 
208.1
Bloomberg Americas Pipelines Index
100.0
 
111.0
 
130.0
 
71.5
 
105.0
 
104.7


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Item 6. Selected Financial Data
The following financial data at December 31, 2017 and 2016, and for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2017, should be read in conjunction with the other financial information included in Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Part II, Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Form 10-K. All other financial data has been prepared from our accounting records.
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
(Millions, except per-share amounts)
Revenues (1)
$
8,031

 
$
7,499

 
$
7,360

 
$
7,637

 
$
6,860

Income (loss) from continuing operations (2)
2,509

 
(350
)
 
(1,314
)
 
2,335

 
679

Amounts attributable to The Williams Companies, Inc.:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income (loss) from continuing operations (2)
2,174

 
(424
)
 
(571
)
 
2,110

 
441

Diluted earnings (loss) per common share:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income (loss) from continuing operations (2)
2.62

 
(.57
)
 
(.76
)
 
2.91

 
.64

Total assets at December 31 (3)
46,352

 
46,835

 
49,020

 
50,455

 
27,065

Commercial paper and long-term debt due within one year at December 31 (4)
501

 
878

 
675

 
802

 
226

Long-term debt at December 31 (3)
20,434

 
22,624

 
23,812

 
20,780

 
11,276

Stockholders’ equity at December 31 (3) (5)
9,656

 
4,643

 
6,148

 
8,777

 
4,864

Cash dividends declared per common share
1.200

 
1.680

 
2.450

 
1.958

 
1.438

_________
(1)
Revenues for 2014 increased reflecting the consolidation of ACMP beginning in third quarter and new Canadian construction management services.
(2)
Income (loss) from continuing operations:
For 2017 includes a $1.923 billion benefit for income taxes resulting from Tax Reform rate change, a $1.095 billion pre-tax gain on the sale of our Geismar Interest, partially offset by $1.248 billion of pre-tax impairments of certain assets, and $776 million of pre-tax regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform;
For 2016 includes an $873 million impairment of certain assets and a $430 million impairment of certain equity-method investments;
For 2015 includes a $1.4 billion impairment of certain equity-method investments and a $1.1 billion impairment of goodwill;
For 2014 includes $2.5 billion pre-tax gain recognized as a result of remeasuring to fair value the equity-method investment we held before we acquired a controlling interest in ACMP, $246 million of insurance recoveries related to the 2013 Geismar Incident, and $154 million of cash received related to a contingency settlement. 2014 also includes $78 million of pre-tax equity losses from Bluegrass Pipeline and Moss Lake related primarily to the underlying write-off of previously capitalized project development costs and $76 million of pre-tax acquisition, merger, and transition expenses related to our acquisition of ACMP;
For 2013 includes $99 million of deferred income tax expense incurred on undistributed earnings of our foreign operations that are no longer considered permanently reinvested.

(3)
The increases in 2014 reflect assets acquired and debt assumed primarily related to our acquisition of ACMP in third quarter as well as $1.9 billion of related debt issuances and $2.8 billion of debt issuances at WPZ. Additionally, we issued $3.4 billion of equity.
(4)
The increase in 2014 reflects borrowings under WPZ’s commercial paper program, which was initiated in 2013.
(5)
The increase in 2017 includes our issuance of common stock as part of our Financial Repositioning.


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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
General
We are an energy infrastructure company focused on connecting North America’s significant hydrocarbon resource plays to growing markets for natural gas and NGLs. Our operations are located principally in the United States. We have one reportable segment, Williams Partners. All remaining business activities are included in Other.
Williams Partners
Williams Partners consists of our consolidated master limited partnership, WPZ, which includes gas pipeline and midstream businesses. The gas pipeline businesses include interstate natural gas pipelines and pipeline joint project investments; and the midstream businesses provide natural gas gathering, treating, and processing services; NGL production, fractionation, storage, marketing, and transportation; deepwater production handling and crude oil transportation services; and are comprised of several wholly owned and partially owned subsidiaries and joint project investments. As of December 31, 2017, we own 74 percent of the interests in WPZ.
Williams Partners’ gas pipeline businesses consist primarily of Transco and Northwest Pipeline. The gas pipeline business also holds interests in joint venture interstate and intrastate natural gas pipeline systems including a 50 percent equity-method investment in Gulfstream and a 41 percent interest in Constitution (a consolidated entity), which is developing a pipeline project. (See Note 3 – Variable Interest Entities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.) As of December 31, 2017, Transco and Northwest Pipeline owned and operated a combined total of approximately 13,600 miles of pipelines with a total annual throughput of approximately 4,533 Tbtu of natural gas and peak-day delivery capacity of approximately 18.8 MMdth of natural gas.
Williams Partners’ midstream businesses primarily consist of (1) natural gas gathering, treating, compression, and processing; (2) NGL fractionation, storage, and transportation; (3) crude oil production handling and transportation; and (4) olefins production. (See Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.) The primary service areas are concentrated in major producing basins in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and Ohio, which include the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, and Utica shale plays as well as the Mid-Continent region.
The midstream businesses include equity-method investments in natural gas gathering and processing assets and NGL fractionation and transportation assets, including a 62 percent equity-method investment in UEOM, a 69 percent equity-method investment in Laurel Mountain, a 58 percent equity-method investment in Caiman II, a 60 percent equity-method investment in Discovery, a 50 percent equity-method investment in OPPL, and Appalachia Midstream Services, LLC, which owns an approximate average 66 percent equity-method investment interest in multiple gas gathering systems in the Marcellus Shale (Appalachia Midstream Investments), as well as our previously owned 50 percent equity-method investment in the Delaware basin gas gathering system (DBJV) in the Mid-Continent region (see Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
The midstream businesses previously included Canadian midstream operations, which were comprised of an oil sands offgas processing plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta and an NGL/olefin fractionation facility at Redwater, Alberta. In September 2016, these Canadian operations were sold.
Williams Partners’ ongoing strategy is to safely and reliably operate large-scale, interstate natural gas transmission and midstream infrastructures where our assets can be fully utilized and drive low per-unit costs. We focus on consistently attracting new business by providing highly reliable service to our customers and investing in growing markets and areas of increasing natural gas demand.
Williams Partners’ interstate transmission and related storage activities are subject to regulation by the FERC and as such, our rates and charges for the transportation of natural gas in interstate commerce, and the extension, expansion or abandonment of jurisdictional facilities and accounting, among other things, are subject to regulation. The rates are established through the FERC’s ratemaking process. Changes in commodity prices and volumes transported have


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limited near-term impact on these revenues because the majority of cost of service is recovered through firm capacity reservation charges in transportation rates.
Other
Other is comprised of business activities that are not operating segments, as well as corporate operations. Other also includes certain domestic olefins pipeline assets as well as certain Canadian assets, which included a liquids extraction plant located near Fort McMurray, Alberta, that began operations in March 2016, and a propane dehydrogenation facility which was under development. In September 2016, the Canadian assets were sold.
Financial Repositioning
In January 2017, we entered into agreements with WPZ, wherein we permanently waived the general partner’s IDRs and converted our 2 percent general partner interest in WPZ to a noneconomic interest in exchange for 289 million newly issued WPZ common units. Pursuant to this agreement, we also purchased approximately 277 thousand WPZ common units for $10 million. Additionally, we purchased approximately 59 million common units of WPZ at a price of $36.08586 per unit in a private placement transaction, funded with proceeds from our equity offering (see Note 14 – Stockholders’ Equity of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). According to the terms of this agreement, concurrent with WPZ’s quarterly distributions in February 2017 and May 2017, we paid additional consideration totaling $56 million to WPZ for these units. Subsequent to these transactions and as of December 31, 2017, we own a 74 percent limited partner interest in WPZ.
Unless indicated otherwise, the following discussion and analysis of results of operations and financial condition and liquidity relates to our current continuing operations and should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in Part II, Item 8 of this report.
Dividends
In December 2017, we paid a regular quarterly dividend of $0.30 per share. On February 21, 2018, our board of directors approved a regular quarterly dividend of $0.34 per share payable on March 26, 2018.
Overview
Net income (loss) attributable to The Williams Companies, Inc., for the year ended December 31, 2017, changed favorably by $2.598 billion compared to the year ended December 31, 2016, reflecting a $1.949 billion improvement in the provision (benefit) for income taxes primarily due to Tax Reform, the absence of $430 million of impairments of equity-method investments incurred in 2016, a $219 million increase in Other investing income (loss) – net primarily associated with the disposition of certain equity-method investments in 2017, a $204 million increase in operating income and reduced interest expense, partially offset by a $261 million increase in net income attributable to noncontrolling interests primarily due to increased income at WPZ. The increase in operating income reflects a gain of $1.095 billion from the sale of our Geismar Interest, increased service revenue from expansion projects, and lower costs and expenses, partially offset by a $674 million regulatory charge resulting from Tax Reform, a $375 million increase in impairments of certain assets, and a $184 million decrease in product margins primarily due to the loss of olefins volumes as a result of the sale of our Gulf Olefins and Canadian operations.
Tax Reform
In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was enacted, which, among other things, reduced the federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent (Tax Reform). As a result, we have remeasured our existing deferred income tax assets and liabilities, to reflect the expected future realization of existing temporary differences at the lower income tax rate. This resulted in the recognition of a net income tax provision benefit of $1.923 billion for the year ended December 31, 2017. Certain adjustments within the provision benefit are considered provisional and are potentially subject to change in the future. (See Note 7 – Provision (Benefit) for Income Taxes of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)


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Transco and Northwest Pipeline have recognized regulatory liabilities to reflect the probable return to customers through future rates of the future decrease in income taxes payable associated with Tax Reform. These liabilities represent an obligation to return amounts directly to our customers. The regulatory liabilities were recorded in December 2017 through regulatory charges to operating income totaling $674 million. (See Note 1 – General, Description of Business, Basis of Presentation, and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.) The timing and actual amount of such return will be subject to future negotiations regarding this matter and many other elements of cost-of-service rate proceedings, including other costs of providing service.
Revenue Recognition
As a result of the adoption of Accounting Standards Update 2014-09, Revenues from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606), we expect that our 2018 revenues will increase in situations where we receive noncash consideration, which exists primarily in certain of our gas processing contracts where we receive commodities as full or partial consideration for services provided. This increase in revenues will be offset by a similar increase in costs and expenses when the commodities received are subsequently sold. Based on commodities received during 2017 as consideration for services and market prices during 2017, we estimate the impact to revenues and costs would have been approximately $350 million.
Additionally, we expect future revenues will be impacted by application of the new accounting standard to certain contracts for which we received prepayments for services and have recorded deferred revenue (contract liabilities). For these contracts, which underwent modifications in periods prior to January 1, 2018, the modification is treated as a termination of the existing contract and the creation of a new contract. The new accounting guidance requires that the transaction price, including any remaining deferred revenue from the old contract, be allocated to the performance obligations over the term of the new contract. As a result, we will recognize the deferred revenue over longer periods than application of revenue recognition under accounting guidance prior to January 1, 2018. The application of ASC 606 to prior periods related to these contracts would have resulted in lower revenues in 2016 and 2017. Revenues will also be lower in 2018 and 2019 than what would have been recorded under the previous guidance, offset by increased revenues in later reporting periods given the longer period of recognition.
We are adopting ASC 606 utilizing the modified retrospective transition approach, effective January 1, 2018, by recognizing the cumulative effect of initially applying ASC 606 for periods prior to January 1, 2018, which we expect to result in a decrease of approximately $255 million, net of tax, to the opening balance of Total equity in the Consolidated Balance Sheet. This adjustment is primarily associated with the impact to the timing of deferred revenue (contract liabilities) for certain contracts as noted above.
Pension Deferred Vested Benefit Early Payout Program
In September 2017, we initiated a program to pay out certain deferred vested pension benefits to reduce investment risk, cash funding volatility, and administrative costs. In December 2017, the lump-sum payments were made and the annuity payments were commenced in relation to this program. As a result of these lump-sum payments, as well as lump-sum benefit payments made throughout 2017, settlement accounting was required. We settled $261 million in liabilities and recognized a pre-tax, non-cash settlement charge of $71 million. (See Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Expansion Project Completions
Virginia Southside II
In December 2017, the Virginia Southside II expansion project to the Transco system was placed into service. The project expanded Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system together with greenfield facilities to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from our Station 210 in New Jersey and our Station 165 in Virginia to a new lateral extending from our Brunswick Lateral in Virginia. The project increased capacity by 250 Mdth/d.


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New York Bay Expansion
In October 2017, the New York Bay expansion to the Transco system was placed into service. The project expanded Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from Station 195 in Pennsylvania to the Rockaway Delivery Lateral transfer point and the Narrows meter station in New York. The project increased capacity by 115 Mdth/d.
Dalton
In August 2017, the Dalton expansion to the Transco system was placed into service. This project expanded Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system together with greenfield facilities to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from our Station 210 in New Jersey to markets in northwest Georgia. On April 1, 2017, we began providing firm transportation service through the mainline portion of the project on an interim basis and we placed the full project into service in August 2017. The project increased capacity by 448 Mdth/d.
Hillabee
In July 2017, Phase I of the Hillabee Expansion Project was placed into service. The project involves an expansion of Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system from our Station 85 in west central Alabama to a new interconnection with the Sabal Trail pipeline in Alabama. The project will be constructed in phases, and all of the project expansion capacity is dedicated to Sabal Trail pursuant to a capacity lease agreement. We placed a portion of Phase I into service in June of 2017 and the remainder of Phase I into service in July of 2017. Phase I increased capacity by 818 Mdth/d. The in-service date of Phase II is planned for the second quarter of 2020 and together they are expected to increase capacity by 1,025 Mdth/d.
In March 2016, WPZ entered into an agreement with the member-sponsors of Sabal Trail to resolve several matters. In accordance with the agreement, the member-sponsors paid us an aggregate amount of $240 million in three equal installments as certain milestones of the project were met. The first $80 million payment was received in March 2016, the second installment was received in September 2016 and the third installment was received in July 2017. WPZ expects to recognize income associated with these receipts over the term of the capacity lease agreement.
In August 2017, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted an appeal of the FERC certificate order for the Southeast Market Pipelines projects (a group of related projects, including the Hillabee Expansion Project) filed by certain non-governmental organizations. In doing so, the court (i) remanded the matter to the FERC for preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that conforms with the court’s opinion regarding quantifying certain greenhouse gas emissions, and (ii) vacated the FERC’s certificate order for the projects, which would be effective following the court’s mandate (by court order, the mandate will not issue until after disposition of all petitions for rehearing). We, along with other intervenors, and the FERC filed petitions for rehearing with the court to overturn the remedy that would involve vacating the FERC certificate order, but on January 31, 2018 the court denied the petitions. In compliance with the court’s directive, on February 5, 2018, the FERC issued a Final Supplemental EIS for the projects, reaffirming that while the projects would result in temporary and permanent impacts on the environment, those impacts would not be significant. On February 6, 2018, we, along with other intervenors, and the FERC filed motions with the court to stay the issuance of the mandate in order to give the FERC time to re-issue the authorizations for the projects. The filing of the motions automatically stays the effectiveness of the court’s mandate. If the court’s mandate is issued prior to the FERC re-issuing the authorizations for the projects, we believe that the FERC will take the necessary steps (which may include issuing temporary certificate authority) to avoid any lapse in federal authorization for the projects.
Geismar olefins facility monetization
In July 2017, WPZ completed the sale of its Geismar Interest for $2.084 billion in cash. WPZ received a final working capital adjustment of $12 million in October 2017. Additionally, WPZ entered into a long-term supply and transportation agreement with the purchaser to provide feedstock to the plant via its Bayou Ethane pipeline system, which is expected to provide a long-term, fee-based revenue stream. (See Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)


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Following this sale, the cash proceeds were used to repay WPZ’s $850 million term loan. WPZ has also been using these proceeds to fund a portion of the capital and investment expenditures that are a part of its growth portfolio.
Acquisition of additional interests in Appalachia Midstream Investments
During the first quarter of 2017, WPZ exchanged all of its 50 percent interest in DBJV for an increased interest in two natural gas gathering systems that are part of the Appalachia Midstream Investments and $155 million in cash. Following this exchange, WPZ has an approximate average 66 percent interest in the Appalachia Midstream Investments. WPZ also sold all of its interest in Ranch Westex JV LLC for $45 million. These transactions resulted in a total gain of $269 million reflected in Other investing income (loss) – net in the Consolidated Statement of Operations within the Williams Partners segment. (See Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Commodity Prices
NGL per-unit margins were approximately 62 percent higher in 2017 compared to 2016 due to a 42 percent increase in per-unit non-ethane prices. The per-unit margin increase also reflects the absence of our former Canadian operations which had lower per-unit non-ethane margins in the prior year compared to our domestic operations. These favorable impacts were partially offset by an approximate 26 percent increase in per-unit natural gas feedstock prices.
NGL margins are defined as NGL revenues less any applicable Btu replacement cost, plant fuel, and third-party transportation and fractionation. Per-unit NGL margins are calculated based on sales of our own equity volumes at the processing plants. Our equity volumes include NGLs where we own the rights to the value from NGLs recovered at our plants under both “keep-whole” processing agreements, where we have the obligation to replace the lost heating value with natural gas, and “percent-of-liquids” agreements whereby we receive a portion of the extracted liquids with no obligation to replace the lost heating value.
The following graph illustrates the NGL production and sales volumes, as well as the margin differential between ethane and non-ethane products and the relative mix of those products.


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chart4qtr2017rev1.jpg
The potential impact of commodity prices on our business is further discussed in the following Company Outlook.
Company Outlook
Our strategy is to provide large-scale energy infrastructure designed to maximize the opportunities created by the vast supply of natural gas and natural gas products that exists in the United States. We accomplish this by connecting the growing demand for cleaner fuels and feedstocks with our major positions in the premier natural gas and natural gas products supply basins. We continue to maintain a strong commitment to safety, environmental stewardship, operational excellence, and customer satisfaction. We believe that accomplishing these goals will position us to deliver safe and reliable service to our customers and an attractive return to our shareholders.
Our business plan for 2018 includes a continued focus on growing our fee-based businesses, executing growth projects and accomplishing cost discipline initiatives to ensure operations support our strategy. We anticipate operating results will increase through organic business growth driven primarily by Transco expansion projects and continued growth in the Northeast region. WPZ intends to fund planned growth capital with retained cash flow and debt, and based on currently forecasted projects, does not expect to access public equity markets for the next several years.
Our growth capital and investment expenditures in 2018 are expected to be approximately $2.7 billion. Approximately $1.7 billion of our growth capital funding needs include Transco expansions and other interstate pipeline growth projects, most of which are fully contracted with firm transportation agreements. The remaining growth capital spending in 2018 primarily reflects investment in gathering and processing systems in the Northeast region limited primarily to known new producer volumes, including volumes that support Transco expansion projects including our Atlantic Sunrise project. In addition to growth capital and investment expenditures, we also remain committed to projects that maintain our assets for safe and reliable operations, as well as projects that meet legal, regulatory, and/or contractual commitments.


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As a result of our significant continued capital and investment expenditures on Transco expansions and fee-based gathering and processing projects, fee-based businesses are a significant component of our portfolio and serve to reduce the influence of commodity price fluctuations on our operating results and cash flows. We expect to benefit as continued growth in demand for low-cost natural gas is driven by increases in LNG exports, industrial demand and power generation. For 2018, current forward market prices indicate oil prices are expected to be higher compared to 2017, while natural gas and NGL prices are expected to be lower or comparable with 2017. We continue to address certain pricing risks through the utilization of commodity hedging strategies. However, some of our customers may continue to curtail or delay drilling plans until there is a more sustained recovery in prices, which may negatively impact our gathering and processing volumes. The credit profiles of certain of our producer customers have been, and may continue to be, challenged as a result of lower energy commodity prices. Unfavorable changes in energy commodity prices or the credit profile of our producer customers may also result in noncash impairments of our assets.
In 2018, our operating results are expected to include increases from our regulated Transco fee-based business, primarily related to projects recently placed in-service or expected to be placed in-service in 2018 including the Atlantic Sunrise project. For our non-regulated businesses, we anticipate increases in fee-based revenue in the Northeast region, partially offset by lower fee-based revenue in the West region. As previously discussed, under the new accounting guidance for revenue recognition, deferred revenue under certain contracts will be recognized over longer periods than under the prior guidance, resulting in a decrease in revenue for the West region. We expect overall gathering and processing volumes to grow in 2018 and increase thereafter to meet the growing demand for natural gas and natural gas products. We also anticipate lower general and administrative expenses due to the full year impact of prior year cost reduction initiatives.
Potential risks and obstacles that could impact the execution of our plan include:
Certain aspects of Tax Reform, including regulatory liabilities relating to reduced corporate federal income tax rates, could adversely impact the rates we can charge on our regulated pipelines;
Opposition to infrastructure projects, including the risk of delay or denial in permits and approvals needed for our projects;
Unexpected significant increases in capital expenditures or delays in capital project execution;
Counterparty credit and performance risk, including that of Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates;
Lower than anticipated demand for natural gas and natural gas products which could result in lower than expected volumes, energy commodity prices and margins;
General economic, financial markets, or further industry downturn, including increased interest rates;
Physical damages to facilities, including damage to offshore facilities by named windstorms;
Lower than expected distributions from WPZ;
Production issues impacting offshore gathering volumes;
Other risks set forth under Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors in this report.
We seek to maintain a strong financial position and liquidity, as well as manage a diversified portfolio of energy infrastructure assets which continue to serve key growth markets and supply basins in the United States.


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Expansion Projects
Williams Partners’ ongoing major expansion projects include the following:
Atlantic Sunrise
In February 2017, we received approval from the FERC to expand Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system along with greenfield facilities to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from the northeastern Marcellus producing area to markets along Transco’s mainline as far south as Station 85 in west central Alabama. We placed a portion of the mainline project facilities into service in September 2017 and it increased capacity by 400 Mdth/d. We plan to place the full project into service during mid-2018, assuming timely receipt of all remaining regulatory approvals. The full project is expected to increase capacity by 1,700 Mdth/d.
Constitution Pipeline
We currently own 41 percent of Constitution with three other parties holding 25 percent, 24 percent, and 10 percent, respectively. We are the operator of Constitution. The 126-mile Constitution pipeline is proposed to connect our gathering system in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, to the Iroquois Gas Transmission and Tennessee Gas Pipeline systems in New York, as well as to a local distribution company serving New York and Pennsylvania.
In December 2014, Constitution received approval from the FERC to construct and operate its proposed pipeline, which will have an expected capacity of 650 Mdth/d. However, in April 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) denied the necessary water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act for the New York portion of the pipeline. In May 2016, Constitution appealed the NYSDEC’s denial of the Section 401 certification to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and in August 2017, the court issued a decision denying in part and dismissing in part Constitution’s appeal. The court expressly declined to rule on Constitution’s argument that the delay in the NYSDEC’s decision on Constitution’s Section 401 application constitutes a waiver of the certification requirement. The court determined that it lacked jurisdiction to address that contention, and found that jurisdiction over the waiver issue lies exclusively with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. As to the denial itself, the court determined that NYSDEC’s action was not arbitrary or capricious. Constitution filed a petition for rehearing with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, but in October the court denied our petition.
In October 2017, we filed a petition for declaratory order requesting the FERC to find that, by operation of law, the Section 401 certification requirement for the New York State portion of Constitution’s pipeline project was waived due to the failure by the NYSDEC to act on Constitution’s Section 401 application within a reasonable period of time as required by the express terms of such statute. In January 2018, the FERC denied our petition, finding that Section 401 provides that a state waives certification only when it does not act on an application within one year from the date of the application.
The project’s sponsors remain committed to the project, and, in that regard, we are pursuing two separate and independent paths in order to overturn the NYSDEC’s denial of the Section 401 certification. In January 2018, we filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court to review the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the merits of the NYSDEC’s denial of the Section 401 certification. And, in February 2018, we filed a request with the FERC for rehearing of its finding that the NYSDEC did not waive the Section 401 certification requirement. If the FERC denies such request, we will file a petition for review with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
We estimate that the target in-service date for the project would be approximately 10 to 12 months following any court or FERC decision that the NYSDEC denial order was improper or that the NYSDEC waived the Section 401 certification requirement. (See Note 3 – Variable Interest Entities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Garden State
In April 2016, we received approval from the FERC to expand Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from Station 210 in New Jersey to a new interconnection


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on our Trenton Woodbury Lateral in New Jersey. The project will be constructed in phases and is expected to increase capacity by 180 Mdth/d. We placed the initial phase of the project into service in September 2017 and plan to place the remaining portion of the project into service during the first quarter of 2018.
Gateway
In November 2017, we filed an application with the FERC to expand Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from PennEast Pipeline Company's proposed interconnection with Transco’s mainline south of Station 205 in New Jersey to other existing Transco meter stations within New Jersey. We plan to place the project into service in the first quarter of 2021, assuming timely receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals. The project is expected to increase capacity by 65 Mdth/d.
Gulf Connector
In November 2017, we received approval from the FERC allowing Transco to expand its existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from Station 65 in Louisiana to delivery points in Wharton and San Patricio Counties, Texas. The project will be constructed in two phases and we plan to place both phases into service during the first half of 2019, assuming timely receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals. The project is expected to increase capacity by 475 Mdth/d.
Hillabee
In February 2016, the FERC issued a certificate order for the initial phases of Transco’s Hillabee Expansion Project. The project involves an expansion of Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system from Station 85 in west central Alabama to a new interconnection with the Sabal Trail pipeline in Alabama. The project will be constructed in phases, and all of the project expansion capacity will be leased to Sabal Trail. We placed a portion of Phase I into service in June of 2017 and the remainder of Phase I into service in July of 2017. Phase I increased capacity by 818 Mdth/d. The in-service date of Phase II is planned for the second quarter of 2020 and together they are expected to increase capacity by 1,025 Mdth/d. See Expansion Project Completions within Overview.
Norphlet Project
In March 2016, we announced that we have reached an agreement to provide deepwater gas gathering services to the Appomattox development in the Gulf of Mexico. The project will provide offshore gas gathering services to our existing Transco lateral, which will provide transmission services onshore to our Mobile Bay processing facility. We also plan to make modifications to our Main Pass 261 Platform to install an alternate delivery route from the platform, as well as modifications to our Mobile Bay processing facility. The project is scheduled to go into service during the second half of 2019.
North Seattle Lateral Upgrade
In May 2017, we filed an application with the FERC to expand delivery capabilities on Northwest Pipeline’s North Seattle Lateral. The project consists of the removal and replacement of approximately 5.9 miles of 8-inch diameter pipeline with new 20-inch diameter pipeline. We plan to place the project into service as early as the fourth quarter of 2019. The project is expected to increase capacity by up to 159 Mdth/d.
Northeast Supply Enhancement
In March 2017, we filed an application with the FERC to expand Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from Station 195 in Pennsylvania to the Rockaway Delivery Lateral transfer point in New York. We plan to place the project into service in late 2019 or during the first half of 2020, assuming timely receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals. The project is expected to increase capacity by 400 Mdth/d.


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Ohio River Supply Hub Expansion
We agreed to expand our services to a customer to provide 660 MMcf/d of processing wet gas capacity in the Marcellus and Upper Devonian Shale in West Virginia. Associated with this agreement, we expect to further expand the processing capacity of our Oak Grove facility, which has the ability to increase capacity by an additional 1.8 Bcf/d. Additionally, with the same customer, we secured a gathering dedication agreement to gather dry gas in this same region. These expansions will be supported by long-term, fee-based agreements and volumetric commitments.
Rivervale South to Market
In August 2017, we filed an application with the FERC to expand Transco’s existing natural gas transmission system to provide incremental firm transportation capacity from the existing Rivervale interconnection with Tennessee Gas Pipeline on Transco’s North New Jersey Extension to other existing Transco locations within New Jersey. We plan to place the project into service as early as the fourth quarter of 2019, assuming timely receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals. The project is expected to increase capacity by 190 Mdth/d.
Susquehanna Supply Hub Expansion
The Susquehanna Supply Hub Expansion, which involves two new compression facilities with an additional 49,000 horsepower and 59 miles of 12 inch to 24 inch pipeline, is expected to increase gathering capacity, allowing a certain producer to fulfill its commitment to deliver 850 Mdth/d to our Atlantic Sunrise development. We placed a portion of this project into service in January 2018 and anticipate this expansion will be fully commissioned in the first quarter of 2018.
Critical Accounting Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles requires management to make estimates and assumptions. We believe that the nature of these estimates and assumptions is material due to the subjectivity and judgment necessary, or the susceptibility of such matters to change, and the impact of these on our financial condition or results of operations.
Pension and Postretirement Obligations
We have employee benefit plans that include pension and other postretirement benefits. Net periodic benefit cost and obligations for these plans are impacted by various estimates and assumptions. These estimates and assumptions include the expected long-term rates of return on plan assets, discount rates, expected rate of compensation increase, health care cost trend rates, and employee demographics, including retirement age and mortality. These assumptions are reviewed annually and adjustments are made as needed. The assumptions utilized to compute cost and the benefit obligations are shown in Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
The following table presents the estimated increase (decrease) in net periodic benefit cost and obligations resulting from a one-percentage-point change in the specific assumption.
 
Benefit Cost
 
Benefit Obligation
 
One-
Percentage-
Point
Increase
 
One-
Percentage-
Point
Decrease
 
One-
Percentage-
Point
Increase
 
One-
Percentage-
Point
Decrease
 
(Millions)
Pension benefits:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Discount rate
$
(8
)
 
$
9

 
$
(118
)
 
$
140

Expected long-term rate of return on plan assets
(12
)
 
12

 

 

Rate of compensation increase
2

 
(1
)
 
9

 
(6
)
Other postretirement benefits:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Discount rate
1

 
1

 
(22
)
 
27

Expected long-term rate of return on plan assets
(2
)
 
2

 

 

Assumed health care cost trend rate

 

 
5

 
(5
)


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Our expected long-term rates of return on plan assets, as determined at the beginning of each fiscal year, are based on the average rate of return expected on the funds invested in the plans. We determine our long-term expected rates of return on plan assets using our expectations of capital market results, which include an analysis of historical results as well as forward-looking projections. These capital market expectations are based on a period of at least 10 years and take into account our investment strategy and mix of assets. We develop our expectations using input from our third-party independent investment consultant. The forward-looking capital market projections start with current conditions of interest rates, equity pricing, economic growth, and inflation and those are overlaid with forward looking projections of normal inflation, growth, and interest rates to determine expected returns. The capital market return projections for specific asset classes in the investment portfolio are then applied to the relative weightings of the asset classes in the investment portfolio. The resulting rates are an estimate of future results and, thus, likely to be different than actual results.
In 2017, the benefit plans’ assets outperformed their respective benchmarks for fixed income strategies, but generally underperformed the respective benchmarks for equity strategies. While the 2017 investment performance was greater than our expected rates of return, the expected rates of return on plan assets are long-term in nature and are not significantly impacted by short-term market performance. Changes to our asset allocation would also impact these expected rates of return. Our expected long-term rate of return on plan assets used for our pension plans was 6.45 percent in 2017. The 2017 actual return on plan assets for our pension plans was approximately 15.5 percent. The 10-year average rate of return on pension plan assets through December 2017 was approximately 4.3 percent.
The discount rates are used to measure the benefit obligations of our pension and other postretirement benefit plans. The objective of the discount rates is to determine the amount, if invested at the December 31 measurement date in a portfolio of high-quality debt securities, that will provide the necessary cash flows when benefit payments are due. Increases in the discount rates decrease the obligation and, generally, decrease the related cost. The discount rates for our pension and other postretirement benefit plans are determined separately based on an approach specific to our plans and their respective expected benefit cash flows as described in Note 1 – General, Description of Business, Basis of Presentation, and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies and Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements. Our discount rate assumptions are impacted by changes in general economic and market conditions that affect interest rates on long-term, high-quality debt securities as well as by the duration of our plans’ liabilities.
The expected rate of compensation increase represents average long-term salary increases. An increase in this rate causes the pension obligation and cost to increase.
The assumed health care cost trend rates are based on national trend rates adjusted for our actual historical cost rates and plan design. An increase in this rate causes the other postretirement benefit obligation and cost to increase.

Property, Plant, and Equipment and Other Identifiable Intangible Assets
We evaluate our property, plant, and equipment and other identifiable intangible assets for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate, in our judgment, that the carrying value of such assets may not be recoverable. When an indicator of impairment has occurred, we compare our estimate of undiscounted future cash flows attributable to the assets to the carrying value of the assets to determine whether an impairment has occurred and we may apply a probability-weighted approach to consider the likelihood of different cash flow assumptions and possible outcomes including selling in the near term or holding for the remaining estimated useful life. If an impairment of the carrying value has occurred, we determine the amount of the impairment recognized by estimating the fair value of the assets and recording a loss for the amount that the carrying value exceeds the estimated fair value. This evaluation is performed at the lowest level for which separately identifiable cash flows exist.
During the third quarter of 2017, we received solicitations and engaged in negotiations for the sale of certain gas gathering assets within the Mid-Continent region. As a result of these events, we evaluated the Mid-Continent asset group, which includes property, plant, and equipment and intangible assets, for impairment. Our evaluation considered the likelihood of divesting certain assets within the Mid-Continent region as well as information developed from the negotiation process that impacted our estimate of future cash flows associated with these assets. The estimated undiscounted future cash flows were determined to be below the carrying amount for these assets. We computed the


54




estimated fair value using an income approach and incorporated market inputs based on ongoing negotiations for the potential sale of a portion of the underlying assets. For the income approach, we utilized a discount rate of 10.2 percent, reflecting an estimated cost of capital and risks associated with the underlying assets. As a result of this evaluation, we recorded an impairment charge of $1.019 billion for the difference between the estimated fair value and carrying amount of these assets.
Judgments and assumptions are inherent in estimating undiscounted future cash flows, fair values, and the probability-weighting of possible outcomes. The use of alternate judgments and assumptions could result in a different determination affecting the consolidated financial statements.
Equity-Method Investments
At December 31, 2017, our Consolidated Balance Sheet includes approximately $6.6 billion of investments that are accounted for under the equity-method of accounting. We evaluate these investments for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate, in our management’s judgment, that the carrying value of such investments may have experienced an other-than-temporary decline in value. We continue to monitor our equity-method investments for any indications that the carrying value may have experienced an other-than-temporary decline in value. When evidence of a loss in value has occurred, we compare our estimate of the fair value of the investment to the carrying value of the investment to determine whether an impairment has occurred. We generally estimate the fair value of our investments using an income approach where significant judgments and assumptions include expected future cash flows and the appropriate discount rate. In some cases, we may utilize a form of market approach to estimate the fair value of our investments.
If the estimated fair value is less than the carrying value and we consider the decline in value to be other-than-temporary, the excess of the carrying value over the fair value is recognized in the consolidated financial statements as an impairment charge. Events or changes in circumstances that may be indicative of an other-than-temporary decline in value will vary by investment, but may include:
A significant or sustained decline in the market value of an investee;
Lower than expected cash distributions from investees;
Significant asset impairments or operating losses recognized by investees;
Significant delays in or lack of producer development or significant declines in producer volumes in markets served by investees;
Significant delays in or failure to complete significant growth projects of investees.
As of December 31, 2017, the carrying value of our equity-method investment in Discovery is $534 million. During the fourth quarter of 2017, certain customers of Discovery terminated a significant offshore gas gathering agreement following the shut-in of production after the associated wells ceased flowing. As a result, we evaluated this investment for impairment and determined that no impairment was necessary.
We estimated the fair value of our investment in Discovery using an income approach that primarily considered probability-weighted assumptions of additional commercial development, the continued operation of the business under existing contracts, and a discount rate of 11.3 percent. Higher probabilities were generally assigned to those commercial development opportunities that were more advanced in the discussion and contracting process, utilizing existing infrastructure due to producer capital constraints, and/or we believe Discovery has a competitive advantage due to geographical proximity to the prospect. The estimated fair value of our investment in Discovery exceeded its carrying value by approximately 6 percent and thus no impairment was necessary.
Judgments and assumptions are inherent in our estimates of future cash flows, discount rates, and additional development probabilities. It is reasonably possible that an impairment could be required in the future if commercial development activities are not as successful or as timely as assumed. The use of alternate judgments and assumptions


55




could result in a different calculation of fair value, which could ultimately result in the recognition of an impairment charge in the consolidated financial statements.
Constitution Pipeline Capitalized Project Costs
As of December 31, 2017, Property, plant, and equipment – net in our Consolidated Balance Sheet includes approximately $381 million of capitalized project costs for Constitution, for which we are the construction manager and own a 41 percent consolidated interest. As a result of the events discussed in Company Outlook, we evaluated the capitalized project costs for impairment as recently as December 31, 2017, and determined that no impairment was necessary. Our evaluation considered probability-weighted scenarios of undiscounted future net cash flows, including scenarios assuming construction of the pipeline, as well as a scenario where the project does not proceed. These scenarios included our most recent estimate of total construction costs. The probability-weighted scenarios also considered our assessment of the likelihood of success of the two separate and independent paths to obtain necessary certification, as described in Company Outlook. It is reasonably possible that future unfavorable developments, such as a reduced likelihood of success, increased estimates of construction costs, or further significant delays, could result in a future impairment.
Regulatory Liabilities resulting from Tax Reform
In December 2017, Tax Reform was enacted, which, among other things, reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Rates charged to customers of our regulated natural gas pipelines are subject to the rate-making policies of the FERC, which permit the recovery of an income tax allowance that includes a deferred income tax component. As a result of the reduced income tax rate from Tax Reform and the collection of historical rates that reflected historical federal income tax rates, we expect that our regulated natural gas pipelines will be required to return amounts to certain customers through future rates and have established regulatory liabilities accordingly. These liabilities were recorded in December 2017 through regulatory charges to operating income totaling $674 million. (See Note 1 – General, Description of Business, Basis of Presentation, and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.) The timing and actual amount of such return will be subject to future negotiations regarding this matter and many other elements of cost–of–service rate proceedings, including other costs of providing service.
Our estimation of these regulatory liabilities incorporated the following significant judgments and assumptions involving income taxes collected from our customers.
We utilized current FERC guidance for the default income tax rate for non-corporate taxpayers, which is an element of our overall effective tax rate. It is possible that the FERC will provide updated implementation guidance in the future, including an updated default income tax rate for non-corporate taxpayers. We estimate that a decline of one percentage point in our assumed overall effective tax rate would increase our regulatory liabilities by approximately $42 million.
We made assumptions regarding the allocation of WPZ taxable income between corporate and non-corporate taxpayers. This allocation is subject to annual variation that could impact the weighted average federal tax component of the overall income tax allowance rate.
We made assumptions regarding the allocation of WPZ taxable income among the states in which WPZ conducts business. This allocation is subject to annual variation that could impact the weighted average state tax component of the overall income tax allowance rate. It is possible that certain states may change their income tax laws and/or rates in the future in response to Tax Reform.
In determining the estimated liability that we currently believe is probable of return to customers through future rates, we considered the mix of services provided by our regulated natural gas pipelines, taking into consideration that certain of these services are provided under contractually-based rates, in lieu of recourse-based rates. The contractually-based rates are designed to recover the cost of providing those services, with


56




no expected future rate adjustment for the term of those contracts. We estimate that a one percent change in the relative mix of services would change the regulatory liability by approximately $8 million.
The use of alternative judgments and assumptions could result in the recognition of different regulatory liabilities and associated charges in the consolidated financial statements.


57





Results of Operations
Consolidated Overview
The following table and discussion is a summary of our consolidated results of operations for the three years ended December 31, 2017. The results of operations by segment are discussed in further detail following this consolidated overview discussion.
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
$ Change
from
2016*
 
% Change
from
2016*
 
2016
 
$ Change
from
2015*
 
% Change
from
2015*
 
2015
 
(Millions)
Revenues:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Service revenues
$
5,312

 
+141

 
+3
 %
 
$
5,171

 
+7

 
 %
 
$
5,164

Product sales
2,719

 
+391

 
+17
 %
 
2,328

 
+132

 
+6
 %
 
2,196

Total revenues
8,031

 
 
 
 
 
7,499

 
 
 
 
 
7,360

Costs and expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Product costs
2,300

 
-575

 
-33
 %
 
1,725

 
+54

 
+3
 %
 
1,779

Operating and maintenance expenses
1,585

 
-5

 
 %
 
1,580

 
+75

 
+5
 %
 
1,655

Depreciation and amortization expenses
1,736

 
+27

 
+2
 %
 
1,763

 
-25

 
-1
 %
 
1,738

Selling, general, and administrative expenses
608

 
+115

 
+16
 %
 
723

 
+18

 
+2
 %
 
741

 Impairment of goodwill

 

 
 %
 

 
+1,098

 
+100
 %
 
1,098

 Impairment of certain assets
1,248

 
-375

 
-43
 %
 
873

 
-664

 
NM

 
209

Gain on sale of Geismar Interest
(1,095
)
 
+1,095

 
NM

 

 

 
 %
 

Regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform
674

 
-674

 
NM

 

 

 
 %
 

Insurance recoveries – Geismar Incident
(9
)
 
+2

 
+29
 %
 
(7
)
 
-119

 
-94
 %
 
(126
)
Other (income) expense – net
80

 
+62

 
+44
 %
 
142

 
-102

 
NM

 
40

Total costs and expenses
7,127

 
 
 
 
 
6,799

 
 
 
 
 
7,134

Operating income (loss)
904

 
 
 
 
 
700

 
 
 
 
 
226

Equity earnings (losses)
434

 
+37

 
+9
 %
 
397

 
+62

 
+19
 %
 
335

Impairment of equity-method investments

 
+430

 
+100
 %
 
(430
)
 
+929

 
+68
 %
 
(1,359
)
Other investing income (loss) – net
282

 
+219

 
NM

 
63

 
+36

 
+133
 %
 
27

Interest expense
(1,083
)
 
+96

 
+8
 %
 
(1,179
)
 
-135

 
-13
 %
 
(1,044
)
Other income (expense) – net
(2
)
 
-76

 
NM

 
74

 
-28

 
-27
 %
 
102

Income (loss) before income taxes
535

 
 
 
 
 
(375
)
 
 
 
 
 
(1,713
)
Provision (benefit) for income taxes
(1,974
)
 
+1,949

 
NM

 
(25
)
 
-374

 
-94
 %
 
(399
)
Net income (loss)
2,509

 
 
 
 
 
(350
)
 
 
 
 
 
(1,314
)
Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests
335

 
-261

 
NM

 
74

 
-817

 
NM

 
(743
)
Net income (loss) attributable to The Williams Companies, Inc.
$
2,174

 
 
 
 
 
$
(424
)
 
 
 
 
 
$
(571
)
_______
*
+ = Favorable change; - = Unfavorable change; NM = A percentage calculation is not meaningful due to a change in signs, a zero-value denominator, or a percentage change greater than 200.
2017 vs. 2016
Service revenues increased due to higher transportation fee revenues at Transco and in the eastern Gulf reflecting expansion projects placed in-service in 2016 and 2017; partially offset by a decrease in gathering, processing, and fractionation revenue including lower rates, primarily in the Barnett Shale region associated with the restructuring of


58




contracts in the fourth quarter of 2016; lower volumes in the western regions, driven by natural declines and extreme weather conditions in the Rocky Mountains in 2017; and the sale of our former Canadian and Gulf Olefins operations.
Product sales increased primarily due to higher marketing revenues reflecting significantly higher prices and volumes. Revenues from the sale of our equity NGLs increased primarily due to higher non-ethane NGL prices, partially offset by lower volumes. These increases were partially offset by lower olefin production sales due to lower volumes resulting from the sale of our former Gulf Olefins and Canadian operations.
The increase in Product costs is primarily due to the same factors that increased marketing sales, partially offset by lower olefin feedstock purchases associated with the sale of our Gulf Olefins and Canadian operations.
Operating and maintenance expenses increased primarily due to higher pipeline integrity testing and general maintenance at Transco and a settlement charge from a pension early payout program (see Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), partially offset by the absence of costs associated with our former Canadian and Gulf Olefins operations and lower labor-related costs resulting from our workforce reductions that occurred late in first-quarter 2016, and ongoing cost containment efforts.
Depreciation and amortization expenses decreased primarily due to the absence of our former Canadian and Gulf Olefins operations, partially offset by new assets placed in-service.
Selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) decreased primarily due to the absence of certain project development costs associated with the Canadian PDH facility that were expensed in 2016, lower labor-related costs resulting from our workforce reductions that occurred late in first-quarter 2016, ongoing cost containment efforts, lower strategic development costs, and the absence of costs associated with our former Canadian and Gulf Coast operations. These decreases were partially offset by higher severance and organizational realignment costs in 2017 (see Note 6 – Other Income and Expenses of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements) and a settlement charge from a pension early payout program.
The unfavorable change in Impairment of certain assets reflects 2017 impairments of certain gathering operations in the Mid-Continent and Marcellus South regions, certain NGL pipeline assets, and an olefins pipeline project in the Gulf coast region. These 2017 impairments are partially offset by the absence of 2016 impairments of our former Canadian operations and certain Mid-Continent assets (see Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
The Gain on sale of Geismar Interest reflects the gain recognized on the sale of our Geismar Interest in July 2017. (See Note 2 – Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform relates to the recognition of regulatory liabilities for the probable return to customers through future rates of the future decrease in income taxes payable associated with Tax Reform. (See Note 1 – General, Description of Business, Basis of Presentation, and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
The favorable change in Other (income) expense – net within Operating income (loss) includes the absence of the 2016 loss on the sale of our Canadian operations, gains from certain contract settlements and terminations in 2017, a gain on the sale of our RGP Splitter in 2017, and the absence of an unfavorable change in foreign currency exchange associated with our former Canadian operations. These favorable changes are partially offset by additional expense associated with an annual revision to the ARO liability, accrual of additional expenses in 2017 related to the Geismar Incident, as well as the absence of a gain in first-quarter 2016 associated with the sale of unused pipe.
Operating income (loss) changed favorably primarily due to the Gain on sale of Geismar Interest, the absence of the 2016 impairments of certain Mid-Continent assets and our former Canadian operations, higher service revenues primarily from expansion projects placed in-service in 2016 and 2017, the absence of expensed Canadian PDH facility project development costs in 2016, as well as ongoing cost containment efforts, including workforce reductions in first-quarter 2016. Operating income (loss) also improved due to the absence of a 2016 loss on the sale of our Canadian operations, the absence of an operating loss associated with our former Canadian operations, gains from certain contract settlements and the sale of our RGP Splitter. These favorable changes were partially offset by 2017 impairments of


59




certain gathering operations in the Mid-Continent and Marcellus South regions, regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform, and certain NGL pipeline assets, as well as the absence of operating income associated with our former Gulf Olefins operations, and a settlement charge from a pension early payout program.
The favorable change in Equity earnings (losses) is due to an increase in ownership of our Appalachia Midstream Investments and improved results at Aux Sable due to favorable pricing and higher volumes, partially offset by lower UEOM results driven by lower processing volumes from the Utica gathering system and lower Discovery results due to lower volumes.
The decrease in Impairment of equity-method investments reflects the absence of 2016 impairment charges associated with our Appalachia Midstream Investments, DBJV, Laurel Mountain, and Ranch Westex equity-method investments. (See Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Other investing income (loss) – net reflects the gain on disposition of our investments in DBJV and Ranch Westex JV LLC in 2017, partially offset by the absence of interest income received in 2016 associated with a receivable related to the sale of certain former Venezuelan assets and the absence of a 2016 gain on the sale of an equity-method investment interest in a gathering system that was part of our Appalachia Midstream Investments. (See Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements).
Interest expense decreased primarily due to lower Interest incurred primarily attributable to debt retirements in 2017 and lower borrowings on our credit facilities in 2017. (See Note 13 – Debt, Banking Arrangements, and Leases of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Other income (expense) – net below Operating income (loss) changed unfavorably primarily due to charges reducing regulatory assets related to deferred taxes on equity funds used during construction (AFUDC) resulting from Tax Reform and a settlement charge from a pension early payout program, partially offset by a net gain on early debt retirements in 2017, and other favorable changes related to AFUDC. (See Note 5 – Other Income and Expenses of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Provision (benefit) for income taxes changed favorably primarily due to a reduction in the federal statutory rate from 35 percent to 21 percent with the enactment of Tax Reform. The remeasurement of our existing deferred tax assets and liabilities at the reduced rate resulted in the recognition of a net income tax provision benefit of $1.923 billion. Adjustments within this provision benefit are considered provisional and are potentially subject to change in the future. See Note 7 – Provision (Benefit) for Income Taxes of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of the effective tax rate compared to the federal statutory rate for both periods.
The unfavorable change in Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests is primarily due to the impact of decreased income allocated to us driven by the permanent waiver of IDRs and higher operating results at WPZ, partially offset by a decrease in the ownership of the noncontrolling interests. Both the permanent waiver of IDRs and the change in ownership are associated with the first-quarter 2017 Financial Repositioning (see Note 1 – General, Description of Business, and Basis of Presentation of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). In addition, improved results in our Gulfstar operations also contributed to the increase in Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests, partially offset by lower results for our Cardinal gathering system.
2016 vs. 2015
Service revenues increased slightly primarily due to expansion projects placed in service in 2015 and 2016, partially offset by a decrease in gathering, processing, and fractionation revenue primarily due to lower volumes in the Barnett Shale and Anadarko basin.
Product sales increased primarily due to higher olefin sales reflecting increased volumes at our former Geismar plant as a result of the plant operating at higher production levels in 2016, partially offset by a decrease from our other olefin operations associated with lower volumes and per-unit sales prices. Product sales also reflect higher marketing revenues associated with higher NGL and propylene prices and natural gas and crude oil volumes, partially offset by lower NGL volumes, and crude oil prices.


60




The decrease in Product costs includes lower olefin feedstock purchases and lower costs associated with other product sales, partially offset by higher marketing purchases primarily due to the same factors that increased marketing sales. The decline in olefin feedstock purchases is primarily associated with lower per-unit feedstock costs and volumes at our other olefin operations, partially offset by an increase in olefin feedstock purchases at our former Geismar plant reflecting increased volumes resulting from higher production levels in 2016.
Operating and maintenance expenses decreased primarily due to lower labor-related and outside service costs resulting from our first-quarter 2016 workforce reductions and cost containment efforts and lower costs associated with general maintenance activities in the Marcellus Shale, as well as the absence of ACMP transition-related costs recognized in 2015. These decreases are partially offset by $16 million of severance and related costs recognized in 2016 and higher pipeline testing and general maintenance costs at Transco.
Depreciation and amortization expenses increased primarily due to depreciation on new assets placed in service, including Transco pipeline projects, partially offset by lower depreciation related to Canadian operations sold in 2016.
SG&A decreased primarily due to lower merger and transition costs associated with the ACMP merger and lower labor-related costs resulting from our first-quarter 2016 workforce reductions and cost containment efforts. These decreases were partially offset by certain project development costs associated with the Canadian PDH facility that we began expensing in 2016, as well as $26 million of severance and related costs recognized in 2016 and $17 million of higher costs associated with our evaluation of strategic alternatives.
Impairment of goodwill decreased due to the absence of a 2015 impairment charge associated with certain goodwill. (See Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Impairment of certain assets reflects 2016 impairments of our Canadian operations and certain Mid-Continent assets, and other assets. Impairments recognized in 2015 relate primarily to previously capitalized development costs and surplus equipment write-downs. (See Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Insurance recoveries – Geismar Incident changed unfavorably reflecting the receipt of $126 million of insurance proceeds in the second quarter of 2015, as compared to the receipt of $7 million of proceeds in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The unfavorable change in Other (income) expense – net within Operating income (loss) includes a loss on the sale of our Canadian operations that were sold in September 2016, project development costs at Constitution as we discontinued capitalization of these costs in April 2016, and an unfavorable change in foreign currency exchange that primarily relates to losses incurred on foreign currency transactions and the remeasurement of the U.S. dollar-denominated current assets and liabilities within our former Canadian operations, partially offset by a $10 million gain on the sale of idle pipe in 2016.
Operating income (loss) changed favorably primarily due to the absence of a goodwill impairment in 2015, higher olefin margins related to the Geismar plant operating at higher production levels in 2016, lower costs related to the merger and integration of ACMP, and lower costs and expenses primarily associated with cost containment efforts. These favorable changes are partially offset by impairments and loss on sale of certain assets in 2016, a decrease in insurance proceeds received, expensed Canadian PDH facility project development costs, and higher depreciation expenses related to new projects placed in service.
Equity earnings (losses) changed favorably primarily due to a $30 million increase at Discovery driven by the completion of the Keathley Canyon Connector in the first quarter of 2015. Additionally, OPPL, Laurel Mountain, and DBJV improved $16 million, $11 million, and $10 million, respectively.
Impairment of equity-method investments reflects 2016 impairment charges associated with our Appalachia Midstream Investments, DBJV, Laurel Mountain, and Ranch Westex equity-method investments, while the 2015 impairment charges relate to our equity-method investments in Appalachia Midstream Investments, DBJV, UEOM, and Laurel Mountain. (See Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)


61




Other investing income (loss) – net changed favorably due to a 2016 gain on the sale of an equity-method investment interest in a gathering system that was part of our Appalachia Midstream Investments and higher interest income associated with a receivable related to the sale of certain former Venezuela assets. (See Note 5 – Investing Activities of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Interest expense increased due to higher Interest incurred of $99 million primarily attributable to new debt issuances in 2016 and 2015 and lower Interest capitalized of $36 million primarily related to construction projects that have been placed into service, partially offset by lower interest due to 2015 and 2016 debt retirements. (See Note 13 – Debt, Banking Arrangements, and Leases of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Other income (expense) – net below Operating income (loss) changed unfavorably primarily due to a decrease in AFUDC due to decreased spending on Constitution and the absence of a $14 million gain on early debt retirement in 2015.
Provision (benefit) for income taxes changed unfavorably primarily due to a decrease in pre-tax loss in 2016. See Note 7 – Provision (Benefit) for Income Taxes of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of the effective tax rates compared to the federal statutory rate for both years.
The unfavorable change in Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests is primarily due to higher operating results at WPZ, the impact of decreased income allocated to the WPZ general partner driven by the impact of reduced incentive distributions from WPZ, and the absence of the accelerated amortization of a beneficial conversion feature from the first quarter of 2015. These changes are partially offset by a favorable change primarily related to our partners’ share of Constitution project development costs in 2016.
Year-Over-Year Operating Results – Segments
We evaluate segment operating performance based upon Modified EBITDA. Note 18 – Segment Disclosures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements includes a reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure to Net income (loss). Management uses Modified EBITDA because it is an accepted financial indicator used by investors to compare company performance. In addition, management believes that this measure provides investors an enhanced perspective of the operating performance of our assets. Modified EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for a measure of performance prepared in accordance with GAAP.
Williams Partners
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
(Millions)
Service revenues
$
5,292

 
$
5,173

 
$
5,135

Product sales
2,718

 
2,318

 
2,196

Segment revenues
8,010

 
7,491

 
7,331

 
 
 
 
 
 
Product costs
(2,300
)
 
(1,728
)
 
(1,779
)
Other segment costs and expenses
(2,124
)
 
(2,203
)
 
(2,229
)
Net insurance recoveries – Geismar Incident
9

 
7

 
126

Gain on sale of Geismar Interest
1,095

 

 

Impairment of certain assets
(1,156
)
 
(457
)
 
(145
)
Regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform
(713
)
 

 

Proportional Modified EBITDA of equity-method investments
795

 
754

 
699

Williams Partners Modified EBITDA
$
3,616

 
$
3,864

 
$
4,003

 
 
 
 
 
 
NGL margin
$
203

 
$
169

 
$
159

Olefin margin
126

 
337

 
226



62




2017 vs. 2016
Modified EBITDA decreased primarily due to $713 million of regulatory charges associated with the impact of Tax Reform for Transco and Northwest Pipeline, impairments of certain gathering operations in 2017 and lower olefin margins due to the sale of our Gulf Olefins operations early in the third quarter of 2017 and $35 million of expense in 2017 related to a settlement charge from a pension early payout program (see Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). These decreases are partially offset by the $1.095 billion gain on the sale of our Geismar Interest in third-quarter 2017, the absence of impairments of our former Canadian operations and certain gathering assets in the Mid-Continent region in 2016, the absence of a loss on the sale of our former Canadian operations in third-quarter 2016, higher service revenues, lower segment costs and expenses, and higher Proportional Modified EBITDA of equity-method investments.
Service revenues increased primarily due to:
Transco’s natural gas transportation fee revenues increased $135 million primarily due to a $150 million increase associated with expansion projects placed in-service in 2016 and 2017, partially offset by lower volume-based transportation services revenues;
Higher eastern Gulf Coast region revenue of $103 million associated primarily with higher volumes, including the impact of new volumes at Gulfstar One related to the Gunflint expansion placed in-service in the third quarter of 2016, the absence of the temporary shut-down and subsequent ramp-up of Gulfstar One in the second and third quarters of 2016 to tie-in Gunflint and the absence of producers’ operational issues in the Tubular Bells field during the first quarter of 2016. This increase is partially offset by lower volumes as a result of a temporary increase in 2016 due to disrupted operations of a competitor;
A $39 million increase related to the amortization of deferred revenue associated with the up-front cash payment received in conjunction with the fourth quarter 2016 Barnett Shale contract restructuring;
A $15 million increase in Transco’s storage revenue primarily reflecting the absence of an accrual for potential refunds associated with a ruling received in certain rate case litigation in 2016;
In the Northeast region, a slight increase reflecting a $38 million increase in gathering fee revenue at Susquehanna Supply Hub driven by 11 percent higher gathered volumes reflecting increased customer production and a $23 million increase in fee revenue at Ohio Valley Midstream reflecting the absence of shut-in volumes from the first half of 2016, as well as new production coming online. The increases were substantially offset by a $56 million decrease in the Utica gathering system primarily due to 14 percent lower gathered volumes driven by natural declines in the wet gas areas which are partially offset by higher volumes from new development in the dry gas areas;
A $79 million decrease in the West region related to net lower gathering rates in the Barnett Shale area primarily due to the fourth quarter 2016 contract restructuring, along with lower rates recognized in the Niobrara, Eagle Ford Shale, and Haynesville Shale regions. These rate decreases are offset by higher commodity-based fee revenues in the Piceance area primarily due to higher per-unit NGL margins and higher rates in the Wamsutter area as a result of renegotiated rates in conjunction with infrastructure expansions. Rates recognized in the Niobrara region represent a portion of the total contractual rate that is received, with the difference reflected as deferred revenue;
A $34 million decrease driven by lower volumes in the West region primarily as a result of natural declines and more extreme weather conditions in the Rocky Mountains in the first quarter of 2017, partially offset by higher volumes in the Haynesville Shale region as a result of increased drilling in certain areas;
A $36 million decrease due to the absence of revenue generated by our former Canadian operations that were sold in September 2016;


63




A $15 million decrease in western Gulf Coast region fee revenues due to lower volumes primarily associated with producer maintenance.
Product sales increased primarily due to:
A $735 million increase in marketing revenues primarily due to significantly higher prices across all products and higher NGL volumes (substantially offset in marketing purchases);
A $32 million increase in revenues from our equity NGLs including a $102 million increase driven primarily by higher non-ethane prices, partially offset by a $36 million decrease due to the absence of NGL production revenues associated with our former Canadian operations and a $34 million decrease primarily related to lower non-ethane volumes at our domestic plants driven by the absence of temporary volumes in 2016 related to disrupted operations of a competitor, severe winter conditions in the first quarter of 2017, and natural declines;
A $12 million increase in system management gas sales from Transco. System management gas sales are offset in Product costs and, therefore, have no impact on Modified EBITDA;
A $380 million decrease in olefin sales primarily due to a $343 million decrease reflecting the absence of third- and fourth-quarter sales of our Gulf Olefins operations, a $29 million decrease due to the sale of the Canadian operations in 2016, and a $16 million decrease at our Geismar plant in the first half of 2017 primarily due to lower volumes associated with the electrical outage in second-quarter 2017, as well as planned maintenance downtime in first-quarter 2017. These items were partially offset by $8 million higher sales at the RGP Splitter in the first half 2017 primarily due to higher propylene prices.
Product costs increased primarily due to:
A $725 million increase in marketing purchases primarily due to the same factors that increased marketing sales (more than offset in marketing revenues). The increase in marketing costs does not reflect the intercompany costs associated with certain gathering and processing services performed by an affiliate;
A $12 million increase in system management gas costs (offset in Product sales);
A $166 million decrease in olefin feedstock purchases primarily due to the absence of $163 million in feedstock purchases in the second half of 2017 reflecting the sale of the Gulf Olefins operations, as well as the absence of $9 million in costs associated with our former Canadian operations, partially offset by $6 million higher feedstock costs in the first half of 2017.
A $2 million decrease in costs from our equity NGLs including a $35 million increase driven primarily by higher gas prices, partially offset by a $24 million decrease due to the absence of NGL production revenues associated with our former Canadian operations and a $13 million decrease primarily related to lower volumes at our domestic plants driven by severe winter conditions in the first quarter of 2017, and the absence of temporary volumes in 2016 related to disrupted operations of a competitor and natural declines.
The favorable change in Other segment costs and expenses includes a decrease in labor-related expenses primarily due to our first quarter 2016 workforce reduction and ongoing cost containment efforts; the absence of $117 million of operating and other expenses associated with our Gulf Olefins and Canadian operations; and the absence of a $34 million loss on the sale of our former Canadian operations. Additional favorable changes in Other segment costs and expenses include a $27 million net gain associated with early debt retirement; a $15 million gain related to favorable contract settlements and terminations; a favorable change in equity AFUDC, primarily associated with an increase in Transco’s capital spending, which is partially offset by a decrease in capital spending at Constitution; and a $12 million gain on the sale of the RGP Splitter. These decreases are partially offset by $35 million of expense in 2017 related to a settlement charge from a pension early payout program (see Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements), higher various maintenance expenses, an increase in pipeline integrity testing on Transco, and higher Geismar selling expenses and repairs related to a Geismar electrical outage.


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Gain on sale of Geismar Interest reflects the gain recognized on the sale of our Geismar Interest in July 2017. (See Note 2 - Acquisitions and Divestitures of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Impairment of certain assets increased primarily due to a $1.032 billion impairment of certain gathering operations primarily in the Mid-Continent region and a $115 million impairment of certain gathering operations in the Marcellus South region, partially offset by the absence of a $341 million impairment of our former Canadian operations and a $100 million impairment of certain Mid-Continent gathering assets and impairments or write-downs of other certain assets that may no longer be in use or are surplus in nature during 2016. (See Note 16 - Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
Regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform reflects $713 million of regulatory charges associated with the impact of Tax Reform at Transco and Northwest Pipeline with $674 million presented as Regulatory charges resulting from Tax Reform and $39 million included within Other income (expense) – net below Operating income (loss) in the Consolidated Statement of Operations.
The increase in Proportional Modified EBITDA of equity-method investments includes a $100 million increase at Appalachia Midstream Investments reflecting our increased ownership acquired late in the first quarter of 2017, higher gathering volumes reflecting the absence of shut-in volumes from 2016 and increased customer production, and a $20 million increase at Aux Sable due to increased customer production. These increases are partially offset by a $34 million decrease at UEOM reflecting lower processing volumes from the wet gas areas of the Utica gathering system, the divestiture of our interests in DBJV and Ranch Westex JV LLC late in the first quarter of 2017, a $12 million decrease from Discovery primarily attributable to lower fee revenue driven by production issues at certain wells and higher turbine maintenance expenses.
2016 vs. 2015
Modified EBITDA decreased primarily due to higher impairments, lower insurance recoveries associated with the Geismar Incident, and loss on sale associated with our Canadian operations. These decreases were partially offset by higher olefin margins related to the Geismar plant operating at higher production levels in 2016, lower segment costs and expenses, and higher earnings related to our equity-method investments, including the completion of the Keathley Canyon Connector at Discovery in the first quarter of 2015. Additionally, higher marketing margins, higher service revenues related to projects placed in service, and higher NGL margins improved Modified EBITDA.
The increase in Service revenues is primarily due to a $79 million increase in Transco’s natural gas transportation fee revenues primarily associated with expansion projects placed in service in 2015 and 2016 and a $31 million transportation and fractionation revenue increase associated with Williams’ Horizon liquids extraction plant in Canada. The Canadian operations were sold in late September 2016. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in gathering, processing, and fractionation revenue primarily due to lower volumes primarily in the Barnett Shale and Anadarko basin and a $15 million decrease in Transco’s storage revenue related to potential refunds associated with a ruling received in certain rate case litigation in 2016.
Product sales increased primarily due to:
A $94 million increase in olefin sales comprised of a $170 million increase from the Geismar plant that returned to service in late March 2015, partially offset by a $76 million decrease from our other former olefin operations. The increase at Geismar includes $153 million associated with increased volumes as a result of the plant operating at higher production levels in 2016 than when production resumed in March 2015 following the Geismar Incident and $17 million primarily associated with higher ethylene per-unit sales prices. The decrease in other olefin sales includes a $14 million reduction due to the absence of our former Canadian operations in the fourth quarter of 2016, as well as lower volumes and lower per-unit sales prices within our other olefin operations;
A $70 million increase in marketing revenues primarily due to higher NGL and propylene prices and natural gas and crude oil volumes, partially offset by lower NGL volumes and crude oil prices (partially offset in marketing purchases);


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A $6 million increase in revenues from our equity NGLs due to a $10 million increase associated with higher volumes, partially offset by a $4 million decrease associated with lower NGL prices;
A $39 million decrease in system management gas sales from Transco. System management gas sales are offset in Product costs and, therefore, have no impact on Modified EBITDA.
The decrease in Product costs includes:
A $39 million decrease in system management gas costs (offset in Product sales);
A $17 million decrease in olefin feedstock purchases is primarily comprised of $78 million in lower purchases at our former other olefins operations, partially offset by $61 million of higher purchases due primarily to increased volumes at the Geismar plant resulting from higher productions levels. The lower costs at our former other olefin operations are comprised of $54 million in lower per-unit feedstock costs and $24 million in primarily lower propylene volumes;
A $4 million decrease in natural gas purchases associated with the production of equity NGLs reflecting a decrease of $13 million due to lower natural gas prices, partially offset by a $9 million increase associated with higher volumes;
Lower costs associated with various other products, primarily condensate;
A $22 million increase in marketing purchases primarily due to the same factors that increased marketing sales (more than offset in marketing revenues). The increase in marketing costs does not reflect the intercompany costs associated with certain gathering and processing services performed by an affiliate.
The decrease in Other segment costs and expenses is primarily due to lower operating costs and general and administrative expenses reflecting decreases in primarily labor-related and outside services costs resulting from our first-quarter 2016 workforce reductions and ongoing cost containment efforts and lower costs associated with general maintenance activities in the Marcellus Shale, as well as $43 million of lower ACMP Merger and transition-related expenses. Other items partially offsetting these decreases are as follows:
$37 million increase for severance and related costs associated with workforce reductions incurred in the first quarter of 2016 and the organizational realignment in the fourth quarter of 2016;
$34 million increase related to the 2016 loss on sale of our Canadian operations;
$28 million higher project development costs at Constitution as we discontinued capitalization of development costs related to this project beginning in April 2016;
$22 million higher contract services for pipeline testing and general maintenance at Transco;
$20 million unfavorable change in foreign currency exchange that primarily relates to losses incurred on foreign currency transactions and the remeasurement of the U.S. dollar-denominated current assets and liabilities within our former Canadian operations;
$19 million unfavorable change in AFUDC associated with a decrease in spending on Constitution;
The absence of a $14 million gain recognized in second-quarter 2015 resulting from the early retirement of certain debt.
Net insurance recoveries – Geismar Incident decreased reflecting $7 million of insurance proceeds received in 2016 compared to $126 million received in 2015.


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Impairment of certain assets increased primarily due to 2016 impairments of $341 million associated with our Canadian operations and $63 million associated with certain Mid-Continent gathering assets as well as impairments or write-downs of other certain assets that may no longer be in use or are surplus in nature, partially offset by the absence of 2015 impairments of $94 million associated with previously capitalized project development costs for a gas processing plant and $20 million associated with certain surplus equipment within our Ohio Valley Midstream business. (See Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.)
The increase in Proportional Modified EBITDA of equity-method investments is primarily due to a $30 million increase from Discovery primarily associated with higher fee revenues attributable to the completion of the Keathley Canyon Connector in the first quarter of 2015. Additionally, Caiman II contributed a $20 million increase resulting from higher volumes due to assets placed into service in 2015, OPPL contributed a $16 million increase primarily due to higher transportation volumes and lower expenses, and UEOM contributed an $11 million increase primarily associated with an increase in our ownership percentage. These increases were partially offset by a $29 million decrease from Appalachia Midstream Investments primarily due to lower fee revenues driven by lower rates, partially offset by lower impairments and higher volumes.
Other
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
(Millions)
Other Modified EBITDA
$
(150
)
 
$
(542
)
 
$
(112
)
2017 vs. 2016
The favorable change in Modified EBITDA is primarily due to:
The absence of the $406 million 2016 impairment of our Canadian operations, partially offset by the $23 million impairment of an olefins pipeline project in the Gulf Coast region in the second quarter of 2017 and the $68 million impairment of a certain NGL pipeline asset in the third quarter of 2017 (see Note 16 – Fair Value Measurements, Guarantees, and Concentration of Credit Risk of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements);
The absence of $61 million of certain project development costs associated with the Canadian PDH facility that we expensed in 2016;
A $31 million favorable change in the loss on the sale of our Canadian operations in September 2016;
The absence of $32 million of transportation and fractionation fees incurred in 2016 related to the Redwater fractionation facility, which was included in the sale of our Canadian operations in September 2016;
A $38 million decrease in costs related to our evaluation of strategic alternatives;
A $29 million increase in income associated with an increase in a regulatory asset primarily driven by our increased ownership in WPZ.
These favorable changes are partially offset by:
A $63 million charge reducing regulatory assets related to deferred taxes on AFUDC resulting from Tax Reform (see Note 6 – Other Income and Expenses of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements);
A $35 million settlement charge expense related to the program to pay out certain deferred vested pension benefits of employees associated with former operations. (See Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements);


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A reduction in revenues associated with an NGL pipeline near the Houston Ship Channel region;
The absence of a $10 million gain on the sale of unused pipe in 2016.
2016 vs. 2015