The history of the Standard Oil Company is varied and imperative, not only for the oil industry, but also for American history. Its history dates back to the late 1800s, when oil was first discovered in Pennsylvania. At that time, oil was not considered a necessity or even an applicable substance.
As the industry gradually expanded, a young man named John D. Rockefeller took a job as an accountant. Rockefeller was a meticulous and resourceful worker who wanted to start a business. After working for a while, he finally formed his own business. He chose the refining business, a rapidly growing sector of the oil industry.
The company started as an Ohio partnership with some investors. These men included Henry Flagler, Jabez Bostwick, Henry H. Rogers, William Rockefeller, and Stephen V. Harkness. Over time, the demand for gasoline and kerosene increased rapidly. Standard Oil’s profits soared and the refinery expanded its operations. By 1880, Standard Oil controlled 90% of the refining capacity in the United States. Many believed that it was an illegal monopoly, but in reality it was not. Standard Oil still had competition from companies like Shell, Citgo, Texaco, Gulf Oil, and a few others. Eventually, Standard Oil branched out into many other companies. These companies were Standard Oil of New Jersey, New York, California, Indiana, Ohio, and Continental Oil Company. In 1911, these companies were dissolved under the Sherman Antitrust Act. This forced the company to split into different smaller companies, all competing with each other.
In the 1930s, many geologists believed that the Middle East had huge oil reserves. In 1933, Standard Oil of California (Socal) received the rights to drill in Saudi Arabia (after surpassing the Iraq Petroleum Company). Socal created a subsidiary called California-Arabian Standard Oil Co. (Casoc). In 1944, Casoc officially changed its name to Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco). Finally, in 1948, Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso) bought a stake in the company. Standard Oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia had many Americans working at their facilities. They later decided to build housing structures near the oil facilities. These houses had white fences, green lawns, and mailboxes. You would not have known that they were in the middle of a colossal desert. American workers in Saudi Arabia were satisfied with their surroundings and felt at home.
As time went by, the Saudi government got more and more aggravated with companies operating in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis felt they deserved the rights to all Saudi oil and Aramco should be nationalized. Socal and Esso continued to disagree and felt that the oil fields were their property. During 1973, the US showed its support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War and the Saudi government decided to nationalize 25% of Aramco. Throughout the 1970s, Aramco became the property of the Saudi government. In 1980, Aramco was fully controlled by the Saudis and was renamed Saudi Aramco.
So where is Standard Oil today? Are you still operating in Saudi Arabia? Today, the remains of this company are still in operation. They are made up of companies such as Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Conoco, Chevron, Imperial Oil, and Marathon Oil. Yes, some of these companies have contracts in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East. In recent years, there has been a “Standard Oil Renaissance.” Exxon and Mobil merged, Chevron and Texaco merged, Conoco and Phillips Petroleum merged, and BP and Amoco merged. Critics of Big Oil will claim that this only makes the industry fiercer and these companies more powerful. In reality, it is due to new foreign oil companies trying to gain market share.
One of the largest oil and gas companies in the world is Gazprom, a Russian oil and gas monopoly. Then there is the CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Company), which is owned and controlled by the Chinese government. In addition, China owns another company, PetroChina. Shouldn’t American oil companies have the right to be bigger, just like their competitors? The Middle East brings another variety of giant oil companies such as Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Oil Company, Bahrain Petroleum Company, National Iranian Oil Company, Qatar Petroleum, and Iraqi National Oil Company. Oil companies in the Middle East have access to the easiest oil on the face of the earth.
In theory, Standard Oil still operates around the world today. His legacy was created by a group of visionaries who believed that a necessary and profitable company could exist. Many did not like these “robber barons,” although admittedly they helped build America and shape the oil industry. These men were aggressive, diligent, and then very generous. There is no doubt that Standard Oil today will continue to employ thousands of people, donate millions to charities, and continue to safely explore and develop hydrocarbons to feed the world we live in. Today’s Standard Oil not only explores oil and gas, but also invests in renewable energy sources. There is no other company on the planet that has had the success, prestige and dominance of Standard Oil.