Amoco sign. (The final Amoco logo before BP.)
The American Oil Company, or Amoco, was a global chemical and oil company, founded in Baltimore in 1910 and incorporated in 1922 by Louis Blaustein and his son Jacob, but is now part of BP. The firm's early innovations include the gasoline tanker truck and the drive-through filling station.
In 1923 the Blausteins sold a half interest in Amoco to the Pan American Petroleum & Transport company in exchange for a guaranteed supply of oil. Before this deal, Amoco was forced to depend on Standard Oil of New Jersey, a competitor, for its supplies. Standard Oil of Indiana acquired Pan American in 1925, beginning John Rockefeller's association with the Amoco name.
Standard Oil (Indiana) was formed in 1889 by John D. Rockefeller as part of the Standard Oil trust. In 1910, with the rise in popularity of the automobile, Amoco decided to specialize in providing gasoline to everyday families and their cars. In 1911, the year it became independent from the Standard Oil trust, the company sold 88% of the gasoline and kerosene sold in the midwest. In 1912 it opened its first gas service station in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In the 1920s and 30s Amoco opened up dozens more refining and oil-drilling facilities. Combined with a new oil-refining process, Amoco created its exploration and production business, Stanolind, in 1931. In the following years, a period of intense exploration and search for oil-rich fields ensued; the company drilled over 1000 wells in 1937 alone.
While most oil companies were switching to leaded gasolines en masse during the mid-to-late 1920s, American Oil chose to continue marketing its premium-grade "Amoco-Gas" (later Amoco Super-Premium) as a lead-free gasoline by using aromatics rather than tetraethyl lead to increase octane levels - decades before the environmental movement of the early 1970s led to more stringent auto emission controls which ultimately mandated the universal phase out of leaded gasoline. The "Amoco" lead-free gasoline was sold at American's stations in the eastern and southern U.S. alongside American Regular gasoline, which was a leaded fuel. The Red Crown Regular and White Crown Premium gasolines marketed by parent company Standard Oil (Indiana) in its prime marketing area in the Midwest also contained lead.
World War II followed this period of exploration; Amoco participated in the war effort, discovering new means of refinement and even a way of producing TNT more quickly and easily. In addition, Amoco significantly contributed to the aviation and land gasoline needed for the Allied armies. Also, during the war Amoco created its chemical division, formed from the merger of the Pan American Chemicals Company and the Indoil Chemical Company.
In the late 1940s, after World War II, Amoco returned to focusing on domestic oil refinement and advancement. In 1947 Amoco was the first company to drill off-shore, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in 1948 Amoco invented Hydrafrac, a hydraulic well fracturing process that increased oil production worldwide. Initially the Hydrafrac process was licensed exclusively to Halliburton.
Soon after, Amoco began to expand. With an exploration office in Canada, Amoco was now an international gas company. Amoco created several new plants and claimed various new oil fields in this time period, as the company prospered in the post-war boom. In 1957 all the divisions of Amoco were consolidated into a single company, renamed the Amoco Corporation in 1985.
In the late 1950s and early 60s, Amoco again led the way with scientific and technological discoveries. Amoco discovered PTA, a chemical for polyester fiber production. In 1968, following that discovery, Amoco acquired the Avisun Corporation and Patchogue-Plymouth, forming the Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Company.
In the following decades, Amoco expanded globally, creating plants, oil wells, or markets in over 30 countries, including Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Norway, Venezuela, Russia, China, Trinidad and Tobago, and Egypt. In addition, the company also acquired a division of Tenneco Oil Company and Dome Petroleum Company, becoming one of the world's largest oil companies.
In 1976 Amoco (under the "Standard" name) sponsored the Barney Oldfield Speedway attraction at Marriott's Great America theme park in Gurnee, Illinois. Although the sponsorship deal ended when Marriott sold the park to Six Flags in 1985, the Standard logo can still be seen on all of the Barney Oldfield Speedway (now Great America Raceway) cars.
On March 16, 1978, the very large crude carrier Amoco Cadiz ran ashore at Brittany, France, causing one of the largest oil spills in history. More than a decade later, Amoco was ordered to pay $120 million in damages and restitution to France.
On October 21, 1980, an explosion at an Amoco plant in New Castle, Delaware killed six people, caused $46 million in property damage, and eventually led to the loss of 300 jobs.
On August 11, 1998, Amoco announced it would merge with British Petroleum (BP) in the world's largest industrial merger. Originally, the plan was for all US BP service stations to be converted to Amoco while all overseas Amoco service stations were to be converted to BP. But by 2001 BP announced that all Amoco service stations would either be closed or renamed to BP service stations. However, BP rebranded its gas as "Amoco Fuels", including "Amoco Ultimate".
Few BP stations continue operation under the name Amoco, however, most were either converted to BP, some Amoco-style stations were demolished and replaced with BP-style stations, abandoned, or switched to competitor brands.
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