Royal Dutch/Shell Group

Multinational corporate group owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. of The Hague and Shell Transport and Trading Co., PLC, of London.

The two parent companies began as rivals. In London in 1878, Marcus Samuel took over his father's import-export business (which included Oriental shells) and started handling kerosene; he later entered the oil business in the Far East, and in 1897 he founded Shell Transport and Trading Co., Ltd. Meanwhile, in 1890 a group of Dutch businessmen founded the Royal Dutch Co. for the Exploitation of Oil Wells in the Dutch Indies, which built its first refinery in Sumatra in 1892. In 1907 the two companies merged into the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which acquired producing concerns in Egypt, Iraq, Romania, Russia, Mexico, Venezuela, California, and Oklahoma. The group, commonly referred to as Shell, has used the scallop seashell as its logo since the early 1900s. Shell's principal U.S. subsidiary, Shell Oil Products US (founded 1922), acquired Pennzoil-Quaker State Company in 2002. Royal Dutch/Shell is among the largest oil companies in the world.

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▪ international corporation
Dutch  Koninklijke Nederlandsche/Shell Groep 

      one of the world's largest corporate entities in sales, consisting of companies in more than 100 countries, whose shares are owned by NV Koninklijke Nederlandsche Petroleum Maatschappij (Royal Dutch Petroleum Company Ltd.) of The Hague and by the “Shell” Transport and Trading Company, PLC, of London. Below these two parent companies are two holding companies, Shell Petroleum NV and the Shell Petroleum Company Limited, whose shares are owned 60 percent by Royal Dutch and 40 percent by “Shell” Transport and Trading. The holding companies, in turn, hold shares in and administer the subsidiary service companies and operating companies around the world, which engage in oil, petrochemical, and associated industries, from research and exploration to production and marketing. Several companies also deal in metals, nuclear energy, solar energy, coal, and consumer products.

      The two parent companies began as rival organizations in the late 19th century. In 1878 in London, Marcus Samuel (1853–1927) took over his father's import-export business (which included the import of Oriental shells—hence the later name) and started a sideline of handling consignments of kerosene. In 1892 he began operating tankers sailing to the Far East and set up oil depots and eventually (1896) oil wells and refineries in Borneo. In 1897 he formed a separate company for his oil interests, the “Shell” Transport and Trading Company, Limited, and in the ensuing decade contracted for petroleum supplies in Sumatra, Texas, Russia, Romania, and elsewhere. (Samuel was knighted in 1898 and would become Viscount Bearsted in 1925.)

      Meanwhile, in 1890 a group of Dutch bankers, businessmen, and former colonial administrators formed Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Petroleumbronnen in Nederlandsch-Indië (Royal Dutch Company for Exploitation of Oil Wells in the Dutch Indies). This company developed its first pipeline and refinery in Sumatra in 1892, tapping the local oil fields; after 1896, under the leadership of Hendrik W.A. Deterding (1866–1939), it began the construction of tankers and storage facilities and the creation of a sales organization.

      In 1903 Royal Dutch and Shell made their first move toward merger by integrating their distributing and sales operations involving Far East sales and East Indies production. In 1907 the more complete merger resulted in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group headed by the two parent companies, with Deterding as general managing director of the Group. (In 1949 Royal Dutch shortened its corporate title to its current name; “Shell” Transport and Trading Company became a public limited company in 1981.)

      By 1913 the two companies together, combined with others, had risen to a prominent position among the world's oil companies, acquiring producing concerns in such areas as Romania, Russia, Iraq, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, California, and Oklahoma and enlarging sales operations in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and North and South America. The Group's principal American subsidiary is Shell Oil Company, founded in 1922.

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Universalium. 2010.

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