(Wikipedia) - Standard Oil This article is about an oil company that was dissolved in 1911. For successor companies with similar names, see Standard Oil (disambiguation).
Standard Oil Co. Inc.
|Cleveland, Ohio Corporation (1870–1882) Business Trust (1882–1892) New Jersey Holding Company (1899–1911) |
|Oil and gas |
|See list of successor entities |
|Cleveland, Ohio (1870–1885) New York City, New York (1885–1911) |
|John D. Rockefeller, Founder & Chairman Stephen V. Harkness, initial investor Henry M. Flagler, Senior Executive John D. Archbold, Vice President William Rockefeller, Senior Executive & New York Representative Samuel Andrews, Chemist & First Chief of Refining Operations Charles Pratt, Senior Executive Henry H. Rogers, Senior Executive Oliver H. Payne, Senior Executive Daniel O''Day, Senior Executive Jabez A. Bostwick, Senior Executive & First Treasurer William G. Warden, Senior Executive Jacob Vandergrift, Senior Executive |
|Fuel, Lubricant, Petrochemicals |
|60,000 (1909) |
Standard Oil Co. Inc. was an American oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world. Its controversial history as one of the world''s first and largest multinational corporations ended in 1911, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that Standard was an illegal monopoly.
Standard Oil dominated the oil products market initially through horizontal integration in the refining sector, then, in later years vertical integration; the company was an innovator in the development of the business trust. The Standard Oil trust streamlined production and logistics, lowered costs, and undercut competitors. "Trust-busting" critics accused Standard Oil of using aggressive pricing to destroy competitors and form a monopoly that threatened consumers.
John D. Rockefeller was a founder, chairman and major shareholder. With the dissolution of the Standard Oil trust into 33 smaller companies, Rockefeller became the richest man in the world. Other notable Standard Oil principals include Henry Flagler, developer of Florida''s Florida East Coast Railway and resort cities, and Henry H. Rogers, who built the Virginian Railway. Contents
Early yearsJohn D. Rockefeller c. 1872, shortly after founding Standard Oil
- 1 Early years
- 2 1895–1913
- 2.1 World War 1
- 2.2 Standard Oil In China
- 2.3 Standard Oil in Arabian Peninsula
- 2.4 Monopoly charges and anti-trust legislation
- 3 Breakup
- 4 Legacy and criticism of breakup
- 5 Successor companies
- 6 Rights to the name
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 8.1 Notes
- 8.2 Bibliography
- 9 External links
Standard Oil began as an Ohio partnership formed by the well-known industrialist John D. Rockefeller, his brother William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, chemist Samuel Andrews, silent partner Stephen V. Harkness, and Oliver Burr Jennings, who had married the sister of William Rockefeller''s wife. In 1870 Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil in Ohio. Of the initial 10,000 shares, John D. Rockefeller received 2,667; Harkness received 1,334; William Rockefeller, Flagler, and Andrews received 1,333 each; Jennings received 1,000; and the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler received 1,000. Using highly effective tactics, later widely criticized, it absorbed or destroyed most of its competition in Cleveland in less than two months in 1872 and later throughout the northeastern United States.Standard Oil Articles of Incorporation signed by John D. Rockefeller, Henry M. Flagler, Samuel Andrews, Stephen V. Harkness and William Rockefeller
In the early years, John D. Rockefeller dominated the combine; he was the single most important figure in shaping the new oil industry. He quickly distributed power and the tasks of policy formation to a system of committees, but always remained the largest shareholder. Authority was centralized in the company''s main office in Cleveland, but decisions in the office were made in a cooperative way.
In response to state laws trying to limit the scale of companies, Rockefeller and his associates developed innovative ways of organizing, to effectively manage their fast growing enterprise. On January 2, 1882, they combined their disparate companies, spread across dozens of states, under a single group of trustees. By a secret agreement, the existing thirty-seven stockholders conveyed their shares "in trust" to nine Trustees: John and William Rockefeller, Oliver H. Payne, Charles Pratt, Henry Flagler, John D. Archbold, William G. Warden, Jabez Bostwick, and Benjamin Brewster. This organization proved so successful that other giant enterprises adopted this "trust" form.Standard Oil Refinery No. 1 in Cleveland, Ohio, 1897
The company grew by increasing sales and also through acquisitions. After purchasing competing firms, Rockefeller shut down those he believed to be inefficient and kept the others. In a seminal deal, in 1868, the Lake Shore Railroad, a part of the New York Central, gave Rockefeller''s firm a going rate of one cent a gallon or forty-two cents a barrel, an effective 71 percent discount from its listed rates in return for a promise to ship at least 60 carloads of oil daily and to handle the loading and unloading on its own. Smaller companies decried such deals as unfair because they were not producing enough oil to qualify for discounts.
In 1872, Rockefeller joined the South Improvement Co. which would have allowed him to receive rebates for shipping and receive drawbacks on oil his competitors shipped. But when this deal became known, competitors convinced the Pennsylvania Legislature to revoke South Improvement''s charter. No oil was ever shipped under this arrangement.
Standard''s actions and secret transport deals helped its kerosene price to drop from 58 to 26 cents from 1865 to 1870. Competitors disliked the company''s business practices, but consumers liked the lower prices. Standard Oil, being formed well before the discovery of the Spindletop oil field and a demand for oil other than for heat and light, was well placed to control the growth of the oil business. The company was perceived to own and control all aspects of the trade.
In 1885, Standard Oil of Ohio moved its headquarters from Cleveland to its permanent headquarters at 26 Broadway in New York City. Concurrently, the trustees of Standard Oil of Ohio chartered the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey (SOCNJ) to take advantages of New Jersey''s more lenient corporate stock ownership laws.
Also in 1890, Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act — the source of all American anti-monopoly laws. The law forbade every contract, scheme, deal, or conspiracy to restrain trade, though the phrase "restraint of trade" remained subjective. The Standard Oil group quickly attracted attention from antitrust authorities leading to a lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General David K. Watson.
From 1882 to 1906, Standard paid out $548,436,000 in dividends at 65.4 percent payout ratio. The total net earnings from 1882 to 1906 amounted to $838,783,800, exceeding the dividends by $290,347,800, which was used for plant expansions. 1895–1913
In 1897, John Rockefeller retired from the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, the holding company of the group, but remained president and a major shareholder. Vice-president John Dustin Archbold took a large part in the running of the firm. At the same time, state and federal laws sought to counter this development with "antitrust" laws. In 1911, the US Justice Department sued the group under the federal antitrust law and ordered its breakup into 34 companies.
Standard Oil''s market position was initially established through an emphasis on efficiency and responsibility. While most companies dumped gasoline in rivers (this was before the automobile was popular), Standard used it to fuel its machines. While other companies'' refineries piled mountains of heavy waste, Rockefeller found ways to sell it. For example, Standard created the first synthetic competitor for beeswax and bought the company that invented and produced Vaseline, the Chesebrough Manufacturing Co., which was a Standard company only from 1908 until 1911.
One of the original "Muckrakers" was Ida M. Tarbell, an American author and journalist. Her father was an oil producer whose business had failed due to Rockefeller''s business dealings. After extensive interviews with a sympathetic senior executive of Standard Oil, Henry H. Rogers, Tarbell''s investigations of Standard Oil fueled growing public attacks on Standard Oil and on monopolies in general. Her work was published in 19 parts in McClure''s magazine from November 1902 to October 1904, then in 1904 as the book The History of the Standard Oil Co..
The Standard Oil Trust was controlled by a small group of families. Rockefeller stated in 1910: "I think it is true that the Pratt family, the Payne-Whitney family (which were one, as all the stock came from Colonel Payne), the Harkness-Flagler family (which came into the company together) and the Rockefeller family controlled a majority of the stock during all the history of the company up to the present time".
These families reinvested most of the dividends in other industries, especially railroads. They also invested heavily in the gas and the electric lighting business (including the giant Consolidated Gas Co. of New York City). They made large purchases of stock in US Steel, Amalgamated Copper, and even Corn Products Refining Co.. World War 1
An oil crisis occurred in Britain due to a German submarine campaign and in 1917 Standard Oil lost six tankers in the space of five months. <https://www.e-education.psu.edu/egee120/node/233> Standard Oil In China
Standard Oil''s production increased so rapidly it soon exceeded US demand and the company began viewing export markets. In the 1890s, Standard Oil began marketing kerosene to China''s large population of close to 400 million as lamp fuel. For its Chinese trademark and brand Standard Oil adopted the name Mei Foo (Chinese: 美孚), (which translates to American Trust). Mei Foo also became the name of the tin lamp that Standard Oil produced and gave away or sold cheaply to Chinese farmers, encouraging them to switch from vegetable oil to kerosene. Response was positive, sales boomed and China became Standard Oil''s largest market in Asia. Prior to Pearl Harbor, Stanvac was the largest single US investment in SE Asia.
Socony''s North China Department operated a subsidiary called Socony River and Coastal Fleet, North Coast Division, which became the North China Division of Stanvac after that company was formed in 1933. To distribute its products, Standard Oil constructed storage tanks, canneries (bulk oil from large ocean tankers was re-packaged into 5-gallon tins), warehouses and offices in key Chinese cities. For inland distribution the company had motor tank trucks and railway tank cars, and for river navigation it had a fleet of low draft steamers and other vessels. Stanvac''s North China Division, based in Shanghai, owned hundreds of river going vessels, including motor barges, steamers, launches, tugboats and tankers. Up to 13 tankers operated on the Yangtze River, the largest of which were Mei Ping (1,118 gt), Mei Hsia (1,048 gt),and Mei An (934 gt). All three were destroyed in the 1937 USS Panay incident. Mei An was launched in 1901 and was the first vessel in the fleet. Other vessels included Mei Chuen, Mei Foo, Mei Hung, Mei Kiang, Mei Lu, Mei Tan, Mei Su, Mei Xia, Mei Ying, and Mei Yun. Mei Hsia, a tanker, was specially designed for river duty and was built by New Engineering and Shipbuilding Works of Shanghai, who also built the 500-ton launch Mei Foo in 1912. Mei Hsia ("Beautiful Gorges") was launched in 1926 and carried 350 tons of bulk oil in three holds, plus a forward cargo hold and space between decks for carrying general cargo or packed oil. She had a length of 206 feet (63 m), a beam of 32 feet (9.8 m), depth of 10 feet 6 inches (3.20 m) and had a bulletproof wheelhouse. Mei Ping ("Beautiful Tranquility") launched in 1927, was designed offshore but assembled and finished in Shanghai. Its oil fuel burners came from the U.S. and water tube boilers came from England. Standard Oil in Arabian Peninsula
Standard Oil Company and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company became partners in providing markets for the oil reserves in the Middle East. In 1906, SOCONY (later Mobil) opened its first fuel terminals in Alexandria. It explored in Palestine before the World War broke out, but ran into conflict with the British government. Monopoly charges and anti-trust legislation See also: Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States
By 1890, Standard Oil controlled 88 percent of the refined oil flows in the United States. The state of Ohio successfully sued Standard, compelling the dissolution of the trust in 1892. But Standard simply separated Standard Oil of Ohio and kept control of it. Eventually, the state of New Jersey changed its incorporation laws to allow a company to hold shares in other companies in any state. So, in 1899, the Standard Oil Trust, based at 26 Broadway in New York, was legally reborn as a holding company, the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey (SOCNJ), which held stock in 41 other companies, which controlled other companies, which in turn controlled yet other companies. This conglomerate was seen by the public as all-pervasive, controlled by a select group of directors, and completely unaccountable.U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt depicted as the infant Hercules grappling with Standard Oil in a 1906 Puck magazine cartoon
In 1904, Standard controlled 91 percent of production and 85 percent of final sales. Most of its output was kerosene, of which 55 percent was exported around the world. After 1900 it did not try to force competitors out of business by underpricing them. The federal Commissioner of Corporations studied Standard''s operations from the period of 1904 to 1906 and concluded that "beyond question... the dominant position of the Standard Oil Co. in the refining industry was due to unfair practices—to abuse of the control of pipe-lines, to railroad discriminations, and to unfair methods of competition in the sale of the refined petroleum products". Due to competition from other firms, their market share had gradually eroded to 70 percent by 1906 which was the year when the antitrust case was filed against Standard, and down to 64 percent by 1911 when Standard was ordered broken up and at least 147 refining companies were competing with Standard including Gulf, Texaco, and Shell. It did not try to monopolize the exploration and pumping of oil (its share in 1911 was 11 percent).
In 1909, the US Department of Justice sued Standard under federal anti-trust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, for sustaining a monopoly and restraining interstate commerce by:
"Rebates, preferences, and other discriminatory practices in favor of the combination by railroad companies; restraint and monopolization by control of pipe lines, and unfair practices against competing pipe lines; contracts with competitors in restraint of trade; unfair methods of competition, such as local price cutting at the points where necessary to suppress competition; espionage of the business of competitors, the operation of bogus independent companies, and payment of rebates on oil, with the like intent."
The lawsuit argued that Standard''s monopolistic practices had taken place over the preceding four years:
"The general result of the investigation has been to disclose the existence of numerous and flagrant discriminations by the railroads in behalf of the Standard Oil Co. and its affiliated corporations. With comparatively few exceptions, mainly of other large concerns in California, the Standard has been the sole beneficiary of such discriminations. In almost every section of the country that company has been found to enjoy some unfair advantages over its competitors, and some of these discriminations affect enormous areas."
The government identified four illegal patterns: 1) secret and semi-secret railroad rates; (2) discriminations in the open arrangement of rates; (3) discriminations in classification and rules of shipment; (4) discriminations in the treatment of private tank cars. The government alleged:
"Almost everywhere the rates from the shipping points used exclusively, or almost exclusively, by the Standard are relatively lower than the rates from the shipping points of its competitors. Rates have been made low to let the Standard into markets, or they have been made high to keep its competitors out of markets. Trifling differences in distances are made an excuse for large differences in rates favorable to the Standard Oil Co., while large differences in distances are ignored where they are against the Standard. Sometimes connecting roads prorate on oil—that is, make through rates which are lower than the combination of local rates; sometimes they refuse to prorate; but in either case the result of their policy is to favor the Standard Oil Co. Different methods are used in different places and under different conditions, but the net result is that from Maine to California the general arrangement of open rates on petroleum oil is such as to give the Standard an unreasonable advantage over its competitors"
The government said that Standard raised prices to its monopolistic customers but lowered them to hurt competitors, often disguising its illegal actions by using bogus supposedly independent companies it controlled.
"The evidence is, in fact, absolutely conclusive that the Standard Oil Co. charges altogether excessive prices where it meets no competition, and particularly where there is little likelihood of competitors entering the field, and that, on the other hand, where competition is active, it frequently cuts prices to a point which leaves even the Standard little or no profit, and which more often leaves no profit to the competitor, whose costs are ordinarily somewhat higher."
On May 15, 1911, the US Supreme Court upheld the lower court judgment and declared the Standard Oil group to be an "unreasonable" monopoly under the Sherman Antitrust Act, Section II. It ordered Standard to break up into 90 independent companies with different boards of directors, the biggest two of the companies were Standard Oil of New Jersey (which became Exxon) and Standard Oil of New York (which became Mobil).
Standard''s president, John D. Rockefeller, had long since retired from any management role. But, as he owned a quarter of the shares of the resultant companies, and those share values mostly doubled, he emerged from the dissolution as the richest man in the world. The dissolution had actually propelled Rockefeller''s personal wealth. Breakup Main article: Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States
By 1911, with public outcry at a climax, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, that Standard Oil must be dissolved under the Sherman Antitrust Act and split into 34 companies. Two of these companies were Jersey Standard ("Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey"), which eventually became Exxon, and Socony ("Standard Oil Co. of New York"), which eventually became Mobil.
Over the next few decades, both companies grew significantly. Jersey Standard, led by Walter C. Teagle, became the largest oil producer in the world. It acquired a 50 percent share in Humble Oil & Refining Co., a Texas oil producer. Socony purchased a 45 percent interest in Magnolia Petroleum Co., a major refiner, marketer and pipeline transporter. In 1931, Socony merged with Vacuum Oil Co., an industry pioneer dating back to 1866, and a growing Standard Oil spin-off in its own right.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Jersey Standard had oil production and refineries in Indonesia but no marketing network. Socony-Vacuum had Asian marketing outlets supplied remotely from California. In 1933, Jersey Standard and Socony-Vacuum merged their interests in the region into a 50–50 joint venture. Standard-Vacuum Oil Co., or "Stanvac", operated in 50 countries, from East Africa to New Zealand, before it was dissolved in 1962.
Other Standard Oil breakup companies include "Standard Oil of Ohio" which became SOHIO, "Standard Oil of Indiana" which became Amoco after other mergers and a name change in the 1980s, and "Standard Oil of California" which became the Chevron Corp. Legacy and criticism of breakup
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1911 that antitrust law required Standard Oil to be broken into smaller, independent companies. Among the "baby Standards" that still exist are ExxonMobil and Chevron. Some have speculated that if not for that court ruling, Standard Oil could have possibly been worth more than $1 trillion today. Whether the breakup of Standard Oil was beneficial is a matter of some controversy. Some economists believe that Standard Oil was not a monopoly, and also argue that the intense free market competition resulted in cheaper oil prices and more diverse petroleum products; in 1890, Rep. William Mason, arguing in favor of the Sherman Antitrust Act, said: "trusts have made products cheaper, have reduced prices; but if the price of oil, for instance, were reduced to one cent a barrel, it would not right the wrong done to people of this country by the trusts which have destroyed legitimate competition and driven honest men from legitimate business enterprise".
The Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits the restraint of trade. Defenders of Standard Oil insist that the company did not restrain trade; they were simply superior competitors. The federal courts ruled otherwise.
Some economic historians have observed that Standard Oil was in the process of losing its monopoly at the time of its breakup in 1911. Although Standard had 90 percent of American refining capacity in 1880, by 1911 that had shrunk to between 60 and 65 percent, due to the expansion in capacity by competitors. Numerous regional competitors (such as Pure Oil in the East, Texaco and Gulf Oil in the Gulf Coast, Cities Service and Sun in the Midcontinent, Union in California, and Shell overseas) had organized themselves into competitive vertically integrated oil companies, the industry structure pioneered years earlier by Standard itself. In addition, demand for petroleum products was increasing more rapidly than the ability of Standard to expand. The result was that although in 1911 Standard still controlled most production in the older US regions of the Appalachian Basin (78 percent share, down from 92 percent in 1880), Lima-Indiana (90 percent, down from 95 percent in 1906), and the Illinois Basin (83 percent, down from 100 percent in 1906), its share was much lower in the rapidly expanding new regions that would dominate US oil production in the 20th century. In 1911 Standard controlled only 44 percent of production in the Midcontinent, 29 percent in California, and 10 percent on the Gulf Coast.
Some analysts argue that the breakup was beneficial to consumers in the long run, and no one has ever proposed that Standard Oil be reassembled in pre-1911 form. ExxonMobil, however, does represent a substantial part of the original company.
Since the breakup of Standard Oil, several companies, such as General Motors and Microsoft, have come under antitrust investigation for being inherently too large for market competition; however, most of them remained together. The only company since the breakup of Standard Oil that was divided into parts like Standard Oil was AT&T, which after decades as a regulated natural monopoly, was forced to divest itself of the Bell System in 1984. Successor companies
The successor companies from Standard Oil''s breakup form the core of today''s US oil industry. (Several of these companies were considered among the Seven Sisters who dominated the industry worldwide for much of the 20th century.) They include:
- Standard Oil of New Jersey (SONJ) - or Esso (S.O.) – merged with Humble Oil to form Exxon, now part of ExxonMobil. Standard Trust companies Carter Oil, Imperial Oil (Canada), and Standard of Louisiana were kept as part of Standard Oil of New Jersey after the breakup.
- Standard Oil of New York – or Socony, merged with Vacuum – renamed Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil.
- Standard Oil of California – or Socal – renamed Chevron, became ChevronTexaco, but returned to Chevron.
- Standard Oil of Indiana - or Stanolind, renamed Amoco (American Oil Co.) – now part of BP.
- Standard''s Atlantic and the independent company Richfield merged to form Atlantic Richfield Company or ARCO, subsequently became part of BP, and has since been sold to Tesoro. Atlantic operations were spun off and bought by Sunoco.
- Standard Oil of Kentucky – or Kyso was acquired by Standard Oil of California - currently Chevron.
- Standard Oil of Ohio – or Sohio, acquired by BP in 1987.
- The Ohio Oil Co. – or The Ohio, and marketed gasoline under the Marathon name. The company is now known as Marathon Petroleum, and was often a rival with the in-state Standard spinoff, Sohio.
Other Standard Oil spin-offs:
- Standard Oil of Iowa – pre-1911 – bought out by Chevron.
- Standard Oil of Minnesota – pre-1911 – bought out by Amoco.
- Standard Oil of Illinois - pre-1911 - bought out by Amoco.
- Standard Oil of Kansas – refining only, eventually bought out by Amoco.
- Standard Oil of Missouri – pre-1911 – dissolved.
- Standard Oil of Louisiana – originally owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey (now by Exxon).
- Standard Oil of Brazil – originally owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey (now by Exxon).
Other companies divested in the 1911 breakup:
- Anglo-American Oil Co. – acquired by Jersey Standard in 1930, now Esso UK.
- Buckeye Pipe Line Co.
- Borne-Scrymser Co. (chemicals)
- Chesebrough Manufacturing (acquired by Unilever)
- Colonial Oil.
- Crescent Pipeline Co.
- Cumberland Pipe Line Co.
- Eureka Pipe Line Co.
- Galena-Signal Oil Co.
- Indiana Pipe Line Co.
- National Transit Co.
- New York Transit Co.
- Northern Pipe Line Co.
- Prairie Oil & Gas.
- Solar Refining.
- Southern Pipe Line Co.
- South Penn Oil Co. – eventually became Pennzoil, now part of Shell.
- Southwest Pennsylvania Pipe Line Co.
- Swan and Finch.
- Union Tank Lines.
- Washington Oil Co.
Note: Standard Oil of Colorado was not a successor company; the name was used to capitalize on the Standard Oil brand in the 1930s. Standard Oil of Connecticut is a fuel oil marketer not related to the Rockefeller companies. Rights to the nameThis map shows by state which company currently has the rights to the Standard Oil name. ExxonMobil has full international rights and continues to use the Esso name overseas. Kentucky is currently held by Chevron, however its status is up in the air after Chevron withdrew retail sales from Kentucky in July 2010.
Of the 34 "Baby Standards", 11 were given rights to the Standard Oil name, based on the state they were in. Conoco and Atlantic elected to use their respective names instead of the Standard name, and their rights would be claimed by other companies.
By the 1980s, most companies were using their individual brand names instead of the Standard name, with Amoco being the last one to have widespread use of the "Standard" name, as it gave Midwestern owners the option of using the Amoco name or Standard.
Currently, three supermajor companies own the rights to the Standard name in the United States: ExxonMobil, Chevron Corp., and BP. BP acquired its rights through acquiring Standard Oil of Ohio and Amoco, and has a small handful of stations in the Midwestern United States using the Standard name. Chevron has one station in each state it owns the rights to branded as Standard except in Kentucky, which it withdrew from in July 2010. ExxonMobil keeps the Esso trademark alive at stations that sell diesel fuel by selling "Esso Diesel" displayed on the pumps. ExxonMobil has full international rights to the Standard name, and continues to use the Esso name overseas.
One of 16 Chevron stations branded as "Standard" to protect Chevron''s former trademark; this one is in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A combination gasoline/diesel pump at an Exxon in Zelienople, Pennsylvania selling Exxon gasoline and "Esso Diesel".
BP station with "torch and oval" Standard sign in Durand, Michigan.