Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
BP (formerly "British Petroleum" and briefly known as "BP Amoco") is a petroleum company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, and one of the top four oil companies in the world (along with Shell, ExxonMobil, and Total).
In December 1998, BP merged with the American oil company Amoco, forming "BP Amoco". However, this move was widely viewed as a purchase of Amoco by BP, only officially described as a merger for legal reasons. Indeed, after a single year of joint operations, the two giants merged most operations and "Amoco" was dropped from the name. The newly-renamed "BP" became an initialism no longer standing for "British Petroleum", and used the tagline "Beyond Petroleum." Its BP Solar division has become a world-leading producer of solar panels.
1909 - 1955
In May 1901, William Knox D'Arcy was granted a concession by the Shah of Persia to search for oil, which he found in May 1908. This was the first commercially significant find in the Middle East. In 1909, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company was created to exploit this find. The company grew slowly until World War I when its strategic importance led the British Government to acquire a controlling interest in the company and it became the Royal Navy's chief source of fuel oil during World War I.
In 1917, the war allowed it to take the British arm of the German Europaische Union, which used the trade name British Petroleum. After the war ended the company, in which the British Government now had a 51% interest, moved to secure outlets in Europe and elsewhere. but its main concern was still Persia, following the Anglo-Persian Agreement of 1919 the company continued to trade profitably in that country.
There was growing dissent within Persia however at the 'imperialist' and unfair position that APOC occupied. In 1932, the Shah terminated the APOC concession. The concession was resettled within a year, covering a reduced area with an increase in the Persian government's share of profits. Persia was renamed Iran in 1936 and APOC became AIOC, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
Following the turmoil of World War II, AIOC and the Iranian government resisted nationalist pressure to come to a renewed deal in 1949. In March 1951, the pro-western Prime Minister Ali Razmara was assassinated and in April, a bill was passed nationalising the oil industry and the AIOC and the Shah were forced to leave the country.
The AIOC took its case against the nationalisation to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, but lost the case. However the governments of Britain and the US were concerned about the encroachment of Soviet influence in the area and acted to install a friendlier government in Iran. They chose General Fazlollah Zahedi as a more suitable prime minister of Iran.
On August 19, 1953, the incumbent Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, was forced from office and replaced by Zahedi and the Shah was recalled. The AIOC became The British Petroleum Company in 1954, and briefly resumed operations in Iran with a forty percent share in an new international consortium. BP continued to operate in Iran until the Islamic Revolution. However, due to a large investment program outside Iran, the company survived the loss of its Iranian interests at that time.
1960s and 1970s
From the late 1960s the company looked beyond the Middle East to the USA (Prudhoe Bay, Alaska) and the North Sea. Both of these fields came on stream in the mid-1970s transforming the company and allowing BP to weather the OPEC-induced oil price shocks of 1973 and 1979. In 1969, BP acquired the Valdez oil terminal, Alaska, from the Chugach for $1. Some natives contend that this was an illegal transfer.
In the mid-1970s, BP acquired Standard Oil of Ohio or Sohio.
1980s and 1990s
P.I. Walters (later Sir Peter Walters ) was BP's chairman from 1981 to 1990. Walters promoted a movement to deintegrate company operations based solely upon economic considerations: "For me, there is no strategy that is divorced from profitability," he once remarked. Under his chairmanship British Petroleum led the oil industry away from an era dominated by vertical integration and the supply planning this required toward a corporate culture that emphasized trading and decentralization (Daniel Yergin, The Prize [Simon & Schuster, 1991], pp. 722-23).
In 1987, British Petroleum acquired Britoil and those shares of Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) not already owned. In 1994, BP and Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) began marketing Orimulsion®, a bitumen-based fuel. John Browne, Lord Browne of Madingley, who had been on the board as managing director since 1991, was appointed group chief executive in 1995.
In 2000, British Petroleum acquired Arco (Atlantic Richfield Co.) and Burmah Castrol plc.
In 2002, BPAmoco is renamed BP, with no meaning given to the letters. Its new slogan is "Beyond Petroleum". This was intended to show that BP was investing in oil alternatives. This was accompanied by the rebranding of its famous "Green Shield" logo in favor of the helios symbol (which is a green and yellow sunburst) to emphasize the company's focus on enviromentally friendly fuels and alternative energy devices.In 2004, BP began marketing low-sulphur diesel fuel for industrial use. BP is committed to creating a network of hydrogen fuelling station in the state of California.
BP is a leading producer of solar panels since its purchase of Lucas Energy Systems in 1980 and Solarex in 2001. BP Solar had a 20% world market share in photovoltaic panels in 2004 when it had a capacity to produce 90 Mw/year of panels.
BP also began marketing itself to customers in areas where BP no longer exists (i.e. ARCO Territory), this may be the precursor of a rebranding of ARCO, similar to Amoco. ARCO has begun to tout its relationship with BP including smaller versions of BPs logo on its signage. It has been speculated that Arco stations may soon be rebranded BP but retain their unique business practices. Arco stations are often attached to the convenience store ampm which was included in the acquisition by BP.
Prior to its purchase of Arco, BP had stations on the West Coast. These stations were run by Tosco but by the mid-1990's, these stations were rebranded as Union 76.
On March 23, 2005, an explosion occurred at a petroleum refinery in Texas City, Texas, that belonged to BP. It is the third largest refinery in the United States and one of the largest in the world, processing 433,000 barrels of crude oil per day and accounting for 3% of that nation's gasoline supply. Over 100 were injured, and 15 were confirmed dead, including employees of the Fluor Corporation as well as BP.
BP America, the United States arm of BP, was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.
Most Amoco gas stations in the United States are in the process of changing the look and name to BP. However in some states, BP is selling Amoco-branded gasoline (while the name of the station itself is BP).
- BP Company Web site
- Arco Brand Web site
- AMPM U.S.A. Stores Website
- AMPM Japan Stores Website (In Japanese)
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