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Gulf Oil History

1909-1919  When the company that was to be known as Gulf was born in 1901 with an oil discovery in Spindletop, Texas, the primary commercial fuel was coal. By 1903, the age of mechanization had arrived and it was now up to the petroleum industry to keep pace, for the age could not proceed without it. Gasoline development, into which Gulf invested millions of dollars, responded to advances in automotive technology to make the modern motorcar possible. Within a dozen years of Spindletop, Gulf scored notable firsts with the world’s first drive-in service station, complimentary Gulf road maps and over water drilling at Ferry Lake. In 1917, the Gulfstream went into World War I service, along with the rest of Gulf’s tanker fleet.

1920-1949  Gulfpride – the World’s Finest Motor Oil was manufactured and first marketed in 1928 and by the early Thirties, Gulf was a major U.S. corporation. In 1949, William Larimer Mellon, a founder and active head of Gulf for 45 years, died at 80, just 17 months after his retirement, as the company moved into eighth place among the largest manufacturing concerns in the United States

1950-1974  As Gulf entered its second half-century, the needs became more diverse and technologically ever more sophisticated. By 1960, it was clear that Gulf’s growth rate during the 1950s had been twice that of the United States as an economic entity. During the 1960s, Gulf mounted vigorous exploration, production and marketing programs including several new refineries, petrochemical and polyethylene plants, the construction of six mammoth tankers, a joint development with the Holiday Inns of America and the redesign of the Orange Disc to make it more clearly identifiable.

1975-1985  In 1975, Gulf was restructured into seven separate operating companies. By year’s end, the Company evaluated 48 of 82 Gulf of Mexico tracts acquired since 1972, resulting in seven major discoveries and nine less significant discoveries. Gulf ended its 75th year facing new patterns of relationships abroad, and prepared to devote increased attention to interests in the U.S. and Canada.

1986-2009   In 1986 Cumberland Farms acquired the naming rights to the Gulf Oil brand from Chevron to be used in eleven northeast states.  But it wasn’t until 1993 that Gulf Oil Limited Partnership was formed after Cumberland Farms entered a joint venture with Catamount Petroleum LP.  In 2005, Cumberland acquired the company in full and brought in CEO Joe Petrowski, who charged the company with “reinventing” the brand.  Since then, a renewed commitment to the Gulf brand has been established with the introduction of new minimum standards and image requirements.

January 12, 2010 – Present  On January 12, 2010, Gulf Oil acquired all rights, title and interest to the “Gulf” brand in the U.S.  This acquisition enabled Gulf to expand its use of the Gulf brand throughout the U.S. for the first time since it acquired certain rights to the brand in 1986.  Under the leadership of Gulf Oil President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Sabia and Gulf Oil Senior Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Rick Dery, thousands of service stations proudly fly the Gulf flag, carrying on the tradition of a quality product line and friendly service. Gulf Oil Limited Partnership, now based in Framingham, Massachusetts is a wholesaler of refined petroleum products. Gulf distributes motor fuels through a network of more than 2,000 Gulf branded gas stations and service stations, as well as heating oil, diesel fuel and kerosene.

Gulf Oil History.

1902: Oil is discovered in Louisiana


Circa 1905 shot of a geyser in Jennings, the site of the first successful oil well in the state, in 1902. Photo courtesy New Orleans Public Library

By The Times-Picayune

The first successful oil well in Louisiana was drilled in Jennings in late 1901, spawning an industry that dominated the state for decades. The strike came about nine months after the massive Spindletop find in nearby Beaumont, Texas, set off oil fever throughout the Southwest.

A group of Jefferson Davis Parish businessmen went to Beaumont to recruit oilman W. Scott Heyward to drill a well at the site of a natural gas seep. The plan was to quit after drilling 1,000 feet. But undeterred by nervous investors, Heyward kept going until he was down to his last piece of drill pipe at 1,700 feet. Soon a four-inch geyser spewed from the well and Jennings was in full production by 1902.

By the late 1920s, the oil rush turned to south Louisiana. Tens of thousands of workers descended on the area from across the country, digging pipelines, erecting rigs and servicing wells.

Louisiana production nearly matched that of Texas just before World War II. Refineries sprung up, including the Humble Oil Co. refinery in Baton Rouge, still one of the largest in the world.

After fevered drilling in west and north Louisiana, the shallow marshes of South Louisiana became the center of the nation’s oil production in the 1930s. Oil production on land and in state-controlled waters peaked in 1969. The state is the sixth largest producer today.

To get to the oil fields, canals were dredged through the marshes. Today, those canals are seen as a huge environmental blunder, as the spoil banks interrupt the natural flow of the water and the canals channel grass-killing salt water inland.

Timeline of Louisiana History – Jennings

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