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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

In the early 1920s, a small company started drilling for oil near Rock Springs, Wyoming. To their great disappointment, the drillers found large quantities of natural gas instead of oil, and there was no regional market for the gas. The drillers decided to transport the gas to Utah, an area that needed a cleaner burning fuel. And in 1929, in the midst of a brutal winter, the company constructed a 200-mile pipeline over the Wasatch Mountains.

2004 marks the 75th anniversary of that pipeline — the "Pipeline of '29" — and the beginnings of Questar Corporation, a key fixture in the Salt Lake and Rocky Mountain region. Questar has developed into a $4 billion integrated natural gas company headquartered in Salt Lake City. Questar's chairman and CEO, Keith Rattie, says the company has three major components that engage in gas and oil exploration and production, interstate transmission and storage, and retail natural gas distribution.

The largest Questar business in terms of earnings is its unregulated segment — Questar Market Resources. This subsidiary conducts natural gas and oil exploration and development in the Rockies and Midcontinent regions, generating new supplies for growing national demand.

Questar Pipeline is another federally regulated subsidiary that owns 2,500 miles of pipeline and moves large volumes of natural gas destined for major market centers.

Questar Gas, also headquartered in Utah, provides natural gas service for about 775,000 homes and businesses. Keith tells me the company is proud of its long record of providing reliable service at rates that are consistently among the lowest in the nation.

Questar's location in the Rockies definitely provides a competitive advantage since it's the only region in the lower 48 with continuing strong natural gas production growth.

Keith attributes Questar's success to its present and past employees, who carry on the spirit of the original "Pipeline of '29."

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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