FUELS: BP

Name: BP

English adventurer William Knox D'Arcy negotiated oil concessions with the Grand Vizier of Persia and began exploration in the desert in 1901. Seven years later D'Arcy finally hit oil and with Burmah Oil formed the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909. In 1914 the British Government bought a controlling 51% shareholding in the company so as to have access to oil reserves during World War I. After the war the company continued to be successful in exploration, hitting oil in Iraq in 1927 and in Kuwait in 1938. In 1951 Iran (formerly Persia) seized all of BP's assets in the country. Two years later a military coup brought the Shah to power and a deal was struck to allow BP to retain 40% of the Iranian oil.

In 1954 the government decided to change the company name to British Petroleum. In the late 1960s BP struck oil again in Alaska and in the North Sea. The company diversified into copper mining but it was not a success. There was a further setback when the Shah of Iran was overthrown and the country's oil industry was nationalised again.

The British government bought another 20% of BP in 1975 but then sold them to the public at the end of the decade. It retained a shareholding in BP until 1987.

In the early 1980s the company sold off its mineral operations and invested heavily in exploration once again, concentrating on Alaska, the North Sea, Vietnam and Colombia.

BP has had a long and very successful stay in motor sport. At the end of the 1960s the company withdrew from Formula 1 and concentrated on other formulae but returned to F1 in 1983 with Toleman. This was followed by an involvement with the Beatrice team and then a collection of small sponsorships into the early 1990s. At the end of 1994 the company withdrew from Grand Prix racing again. In August 1998 BP announced its takeover of US giant Amoco Corporation.

Amoco grew out of Standard Oil of Indiana, one of the 33 oil companies formed when the US Supreme Court ordered the break up of John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust in 1911. Initially reliant on its sister companies for oil supplies, Standard Indiana began buying oil reserves in 1917. The 1925 purchase of the Pan American Petroleum and Transport company gave the company control of American Oil, which had begun selling the Amoco gasoline brand in 1922. The company remained expansionist in character, diversifying into chemicals after World II and buying Utah Oil Refining in 1956.

There was a major setback in 1978 when one of the company's supertankers - the Amoco Cadiz - ran aground off the French coast, causing a massive spillage which resulted in legal actions costing $128m. Standard Indiana diversified into minerals in the late 1970s after the oil crisis but in 1985 these operations were sold and the company changed its name to Amoco. The company continued to look for more oil and gas reserves in the 1980s and 1990s with the purchase of Canada's Dome Petroleum in 1988 and exploration in the North Sea, Rumania, China, northern Russia, Colombia and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The BP takeover - the largest ever industrial merger at the time - created a company with a market capitalisation of $110bn, headquartered in London. The Amoco brand was retained for the US market while all retail outlets outside the US became BP branded. The merger was followed in April 1999 by the $26.8bn purchase of the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) giving the group massive new oil reserves, notably in Alaska, and retail outlets on the West Coast of the United States. This was followed by a takeover of the Burmah-Castrol company in 2000.

Founded in 1899 as CC Wakefield, Castrol launched its first automotive lubricants in 1906 and has been one of the leading lubricant companies ever since. It has a strong tradition in many different forms of competition and has links with Grand Prix racing dating back to the 1920s when it developed special racing products for Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Delage, Mercedes and Sunbeam. Castrol's relationship with Alfa Romeo continued when the World Championship began in 1950 and the company supplied lubricant to the first World Champion Giuseppe Farina.

In 1966 Castrol was bought by the Burmah Oil Company, which was formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1886. Burmah was heavily involved with British Petroleum and a a result did not develop production capabilities. In the 1960s it decided that in order to survive it would have to diversify and so acquired Castrol and a variety of other petroleum-related businesses notably chains of petrol stations. Burmah Castrol has since been floated.

Promotion of Castrol has been concentrated on motor sport and during the 1970s the company was involved with Wolf and with McLaren. In the 1980s the company enjoyed much success with Nelson Piquet's Brabham-BMW which won the World Championship in 1983. Castrol then became heavily involved in sportscar racing with both Silk Cut Jaguar and Team Sauber Mercedes, winning the Daytona 24 Hours in 1988 and 1990 and Le Mans in 1988-89-90. The demise of sportscar racing prompted Castrol to return to F1 as a sponsor of Team Lotus in 1992. After Team Lotus closed down in 1994 Castrol became a small supporter of Arrows before joining Williams in 1997. The company has supported Toyota's sporting activities in the World Rally Championship for the last seven years and also supports Dan Gurney's All American Racers in CART - another Toyota operation. Castrol is also a partner of the Honda World Superbike and Yamaha 500cc GP motorbike teams and is active in touring car racing and powerboating.

In motor racing BP has had a long history of sponsorship while Amoco has little tradition, except for a short-lived deal in 1988 with the Newman-Haas CART team. Castrol is also heavily involved in racing and rallying and most recently has supported both the Williams and Jaguar F1 teams.

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