FUELS: EXXON MOBIL

Name: Exxon Mobil

John D Rockefeller opened his first oil refinery in 1863 in Cleveland, Ohio. Seven years later he borrowed $1m and established the Standard Oil Company and began building a monopoly in oil refining and transportation. In 1882 he dissolved the original company - in an effort to avoid anti-monopoly legislation - and set up the Standard Oil Trust, with Standard Oil companies in different states claiming to be independent of one another. At the time Rockefeller controlled 90% of the petroleum business in the United States.

For the next 20 years Rockefeller battled the US authorities but in 1911 the US Supreme Court ruled that the Standard Oil Trust must be broken up into 33 different companies. The largest of these was Standard Oil of New Jersey which became known as Jersey Standard.

In 1917 Walter Teagle became president of Jersey Standard and began expanding. He would remain in charge of the company until he was forced to resign in 1942.

In 1948 Jersey Standard bought a 30% share of Arabian American Oil Company for $74m and this added to a 7% share of Iranian production acquired in 1954, made Jersey Standard the world's largest oil company.

The company began marketing under the Esso (from the initials of Standard Oil) brand but this caused problems as other companies were still using the Standard Oil name and so in 1972 Jersey Standard changed its name to Exxon. The company is now headquartered in Irving, Texas.

While having had a long association with motor racing, Esso has generally avoided an involvement in Formula 1 racing, although the company backed Brabham in its early days and was later involved with Shadow. The company has enjoyed a very successful relationship with Peugeot in rallying and sportscar racing.

At the end of 1998 Exxon took over rival Mobil to become the dominant force in the oil industry.

Mobil did not officially come into existence until 1966, but the Fairfax, Virginia-based corporation can also trace its roots back to 1911 when Rockefeller broke up Standard Oil. One of the new companies was the Standard Oil Company of New York - known as Socony - which had been established in 1882. In 1918, in order to expand its operations and the supply of crude oil, Socony acquired Magnolia Petroleum and this was followed by General Petroleum of California in 1926. In 1931 Socony merged with Vacuum Oil to form Socony-Vacuum and adopted the Flying Red Horse as its trademark. Two years later, still trying to buy up oil reserves Socony-Vacuum merged with its former parent Standard Oil of New Jersey and a new company was formed called Stanvac. Further oil reserves were obtained when the company bought a share of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) in 1948.

In 1955 the company changed its name to Socony Mobil Oil and in 1966 became Mobil Oil.

After the oil crisis in 1973 Mobil diversified into other businesses, buying a packaging company called The Container Corporation of America and the retail chain Montgomery Ward . As a result the company dropped Oil from its name in 1976.

The 1980s saw further expansion with the purchase in 1984 of Superior Oil for $5.7bn. To reduce its debts Mobil then sold Container Corp in 1986 and Montgomery Ward in 1988, raising around $7bn.

The company has long been active in motor racing sponsorship and was involved with Williams for a long period in the early 1980s. The company then became a major sponsor of Benetton and also began sponsoring races and buying considerable amounts of trackside advertising.

In the 1990s Mobil concentrated on developing international joint ventures around the world, notably with the Qatar , Malaysian and Vietnamese governments. The company is also involved in petrochemicals, fabricated plastics and building materials.

In Formula 1 the company split with Benetton at the end of 1992. There was a brief sponsorship of Lotus in 1994 and then in 1995 Mobil became a major partner of the West McLaren Mercedes team. The company has also been heavily involved in CART racing.

In 1996 Mobil and British Petroleum agreed to merge their downstream operations in Europe but that deal was swept away at the end of 1988 when Mobil was taken over by the giant Exxon Corporation.

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