Before there was OPEC, there were the “SEVEN SISTERS”.
The Seven Sisters, a consortium of seven world’s largest oil companies, was formed in the 1950s.
Here are the original members of the Seven Sisters:
- Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP)
- Royal Dutch Shell
- Gulf Oil (Acquired by Chevron in 1985)
- Standard Oil of California (now Chevron)
- Standard Oil of New Jersey (now ExxonMobil)
- Standard Oil of New York – Socony ( later became Mobil Oil and then ExxonMobil)
- Texaco (Acquired by Chevron in 2001)
Although the term “The Seven Sisters” was used for the first time in 1951, these seven companies had been dominating the oil industry since the 1940s. The Seven Sisters were so powerful that at one time, they controlled about 85% of the global oil and gas reserves.
Due to company mergers and acquisitions that took place in the oil industry in the last 40 years, the composition of the seven largest oil companies in the world had changed significantly.
The original Seven Sisters consisted of two European and five American oil companies whereas currently, the seven largest international oil companies in the world consist of four European and three American companies.
Here are the new seven largest international oil companies in the world which are now commonly referred to as the seven SUPERMAJORS.
BP (British Petroleum)
British Petroleum is a British oil company that started as Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1908 as a subsidiary of Burmah Oil Company. BP grew bigger and bigger by acquiring SOHIO (Standard Oil of Ohio) in 1978, then Amoco in 1998 and ARCO (Atlantic Richfield Company) in 2000.
BP operates in 79 countries with 70,000 employees. The London-based company produces 3.8 million BOEPD of oil and gas.
Chevron began as Standard Oil of California as one of the successors of the original Standard Oil company, the company founded by Mr. John D. Rockefeller after it was broken up into several companies in 1911 under the Sherman Antitrust Act in the US.
Chevron became a huge oil company after acquiring Gulf Oil in 1985, then Texaco in 2001, and Unocal Corporation in 2005.
With headquarters in San Ramon, California, Chevron operates in 180 countries and employs more than 48,000 people. Its daily oil and gas production is about 3.1 million BOEPD.
ExxonMobil that began as Standard Oil of New Jersey is also another descendant of the original Standard Oil company. Standard Oil of New Jersey changed its name to Exxon in 1972, and later on, Exxon became ExxonMobil after it merged with Mobil Oil in 1999.
Operating in 58 countries, ExxonMobil has about 71,000 employees. It produces about 2.3 million BOE of oil and gas daily. The company is based in Irving, Texas.
ROYAL DUTCH SHELL
The formation of the Royal Dutch Shell group came from the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company of the Netherlands and Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited of the United Kingdom in 1907. The Anglo-Dutch company was formed to compete against the powerful American oil company – The Standard Oil.
The Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, known as Koninklijke Nederlandse Petroleum Maatschappij in Dutch, had its root in Indonesia when it was formed in 1890 to produce the oil it discovered in Pangkalan Brandan in North Sumatera and later on in Balikpapan in East Kalimantan.
Royal Dutch Shell became a big player in LNG when it acquired BG Group in 2016.
From its headquarters in the Netherland, Shell operates in 70 countries and has 81,000 employees. The company’s daily oil and gas production is about 3.7 BOE.
Total, a French supermajor oil company, started in 1924 as Compagnie Française des Pétroles ( CFP). It later changed its name to Total CFP in 1985 and finally to Total in 1991.
The company grew even bigger after it acquired the Petrofina of Belgium in 1999 and then ELF Aquitaine in 2000.
Based in France, Total has operations in 130 countries and it employs more than 100,000 employees. It produces 3 million BOEPD of oil and gas.
ConocoPhillips started as Conoco 1875 in the US. Conoco merged with Phillips Petroleum Company to form ConocoPhillips in 2002.
Based in Houston, ConocoPhillips involving only in the upstream part of the oil industry is the world’s largest independent oil company. With about 10,400 employees, its daily oil and gas production in 17 countries is around 1.3 million BOE.
ENI (Ente Nazionale Indrocarburi)
ENI, a supermajor oil company from Italy was formed in 1953, and then it acquired AGIP, another Italian oil company, in 2003.
From its headquarters in Rome, ENI operates in 79 countries. The company employs more than 30 thousand people and it produces a combined 1.7 million BOE of oil and gas daily.
Jamin Djuang – Chief Learning Officer of LDI Training and author of The Story of Oil and Gas: How Oil and Gas Are Explored, Drilled and Produced