BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, is a British energy company. Originally founded it 1909, it is now one of the world's largest energy companies and America's largest oil and gas producer.
BP leased and operated the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that exploded on April 20 of 2010, leading to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Obama administration was widely criticised for its response to the disaster.
In 1901, Englishman William D'Arcy got exclusive rights to search for oil in southwest Persia. D'Arcy struck oil in 1908, and started the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909. Winston Churchill argued to Parliament in 1914 that Britain needed to secure a dedicated oil supply, and the United Kingdom government became a major shareholder in the Anglo-Persian oil company. In 1917 the Anglo-Persian oil company purchased British Petroleum, which at the time had oil, but no way to get it to consumers. By 1925 British Petroleum had 6,000 roadside pumps in the UK.
Trouble in Iran (1935-1987)
When Persia became Iran in 1935, Anglo-Persian became Anglo-Iranian. Political changes in Iran forced Anglo-Iranian's refinery to temporarily shut down in 1951 as Iranian oil was nationalized. The refinery was opened again in 1954, but as Anglo-Iranian was no longer the only oil company in Iran, they changed their name to British Petroleum. Iran’s oil industry was completely nationalized in 1979 following the Islamic Revolution, and British Petroleum was forced to end its operations in the country.
The Stock Goes Public (1987)
The British government sold the last of its shares in British Petroleum in October 1987, allowing the company to finally be completely privatized for the first time in 73 years. The privatization of the company was expected to boost share values, but the Black Monday stock market crash occurred just before the sale, drastically reducing share values. The Kuwaiti government bought 22% of British Petroleum’s total shares while the price was low. Eventually British Petroleum bought back nearly 400 million of the Kuwaiti shares and cancelled them.
Mergers and Exansion (1988-Present)
British Petroleum bought Britoil in 1988. Full ownership of Sohio was acquired in 1989. British Petroleum merged with Amoco in 1998, and the organization was officially renamed BP Amoco. ARCO joined the BP Amoco group in 2000. The group also acquired Burmah-Castrol in 2000 and rebranded itself as BP. Castrol continues to operate under its brand name while Burmah’s operations were incorporated into BP.
- This source was used throughout the History section: BP. (2010). Our History. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.bp.com/extendedsectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=10&contentId=7036819
- BP. (2010). BP at a glance. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=3&contentId=2006926
- BP. (2010). Oil: Going below and beyond for energy security. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.bp.com/iframe.do?categoryId=9030821&contentId=7056949