When the oil patch hits a rough patch, companies do whatever it takes to right their ships. Some survive while others thrive, but there’s always sacrifice. Such was the case for pipeline giant Williams back in the early 2000s when faced with a debt-to-capital ratio of 71%.

To help regain its financial footing, Williams went hardcore by selling off assets. Among them, its highly prized Kern River Pipeline, which now flows 2.17 BCFD of natural gas across 1,700 miles from southwestern Wyo., to Bakersfield, Calif. The sale of Kern River in 2002 went down faster than a prairie rattler on a high desert gopher. In a deal that included $450 million in cash and 1.47 million shares of WMB stock, Berkshire Hathaway walked away with the keys. But it wasn’t the end of the story.

Reese Energy Consulting today is following the latest on Tulsa-based Williams, which over the last 22 years has turned that initial loss into a remarkable gain. The company last year purchased the 261-mile MountainWest Pipeline that flows gas from six Rocky Mountain basins to a regional distribution hub in southwestern Wyo. The acquisition opened new markets and a pipeline interconnect to Kern River.

Williams’ latest project, the $300 million MountainWest Overthrust Westbound Compression Expansion will upgrade the system to include several new compressor stations that will increase capacity by 325 MMCFD. The company will also add a new interconnect to Kern River to flow more gas to Calif., and the Pacific Northwest to meet the region’s growing demand for power, utilities, data centers, and industrial end users. And there’s yet another hungry gas market emerging in the West. This one in the form of two major hydrogen hubs recently awarded big bucks by the DOE. Who says there’s no romance in pipelines?