26 Facts About Standard Oil


Standard Oil Company, Inc, was an American oil production, transportation, refining, and marketing company that operated from 1870 to 1911.

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At its height, Standard Oil was the largest petroleum company in the world, and its success made its co-founder and chairman, John D Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest Americans of all time and one of the richest people in modern history.

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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.

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The Standard Oil trust streamlined production and logistics, lowered costs, and undercut competitors.

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Standard Oil remained the major shareholder, and in 1911, with the dissolution of the trust into 34 smaller companies, Rockefeller became the richest person in modern history, as the initial income of these individual enterprises proved to be much bigger than that of a single larger company.

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Standard Oil's pre-history began in 1863, as an Ohio partnership formed by 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.

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Standard Oil quickly distributed power and the tasks of policy formation to a system of committees, but always remained the largest shareholder.

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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.

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Standard Oil was perceived to own and control all aspects of the trade.

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For example, Standard Oil created the first synthetic competitor for beeswax and bought the company that invented and produced Vaseline, the Chesebrough Manufacturing Co.

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Standard Oil's 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.

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Standard Oil's production increased so rapidly it soon exceeded US demand and the company began viewing export markets.

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Mei Foo 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.

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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.

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In 1904, Standard Oil controlled 91 percent of production and 85 percent of final sales.

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Almost everywhere the rates from the shipping points used exclusively, or almost exclusively, by the Standard Oil are relatively lower than the rates from the shipping points of its competitors.

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Government said that Standard Oil 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.

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Whether the breakup of Standard Oil was beneficial is a matter of some controversy.

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Some economists believe that Standard Oil was not a monopoly, and argue that the intense free market competition resulted in cheaper oil prices and more diverse petroleum products.

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Defenders of Standard Oil insist that the company did not restrain trade; they were simply superior competitors.

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Some economic historians have observed that Standard Oil was in the process of losing its monopoly at the time of its breakup in 1911.

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The result was that although in 1911 Standard still controlled most production in the older regions of the Appalachian Basin, Lima-Indiana, and the Illinois Basin, its share was much lower in the rapidly expanding new regions that would dominate US oil production in the 20th century.

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In 1911, Standard Oil controlled only 44 percent of production in the Midcontinent, 29 percent in California, and 10 percent on the Gulf Coast.

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Today, Standard Oil's influence is primarily concentrated in a few companies:.

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Some of its Standard Oil-branded stations have a mix of some signs that say Standard Oil and some signs that say Chevron.

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One of 15 Chevron stations branded as "Standard Oil" to protect Chevron's trademark; this one is in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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