The oil companies we have today all had one basic starting point. In the late 18th century and the early 19th century, some of the biggest oil companies we have today were established and are still striding strong.
John D. Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Company in 1865, becoming the world’s first oil baron. Standard Oil quickly became the most profitable in Ohio, controlling about 90% of America’s refining capacity and a number of its gathering systems and pipelines. ExxonMobil, one of Standard’s successors after it dissolved in 1911, is the world’s ninth-largest company by revenue today. In Russia, the Rothschild family commissioned oil tankers from British trader Marcus Samuel to expand their oil operations and reach more overseas customers. Samuel’s first vessel, the Murex – named after a sea snail – became the first oil tanker to pass through the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.
The Murex became the flagship vessel of Shell Transport and Trading, which eventually merged with Royal Dutch Petroleum to become Royal Dutch Shell. Today, Royal Dutch Shell is the fifth-largest company in the world and one of six oil and gas supermajors. The discovery of oil in Masjed Soleyman, Iran by William Knox D’Arcy led to the incorporation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) in 1907. The British Government purchased 51% of the company to provide the Navy with oil during World War I in 1914. In 1954, APOC became British Petroleum, known today as BP, which is currently the sixth-largest oil and gas company in the world.