Royal Dutch Shell is one of the world's three biggest independent oil and gas companies, jostling BP and ExxonMobil for leadership. However the public face of the company is provided by its vast global network of service stations. With around 43,000 retail outlets in every corner of the globe, it is the world's largest branded retailer, and according to the group's extensive annual research survey, Shell has been for many years the world's "favourite" fuel brand. That reputation was dented in 2004 when the group shocked shareholders by cutting its estimates of proved oil reserves by almost 30%. In a reversal of the company's long-running advertising slogan, it seemed suddenly that you couldn't be sure of Shell, after all. Performance has stabilised since then, and the company has begun to make significant moves to broaden its focus beyond oil into gas and other energy sources.
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|Shell Optimax||Quaker State|
|Shell Rotella||Jiffy Lube|
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Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Best Day Of My Life". Shell is burnishing its green credentials with this impressive global campaign under the "Make The Future" banner. It's hard to get people's attention for six entrepreneurial clean energy projects as far afield as Brazil, China and the UK, so Shell signed up a different recording artist to represent each of the six countries involved for this joint music video. Among those appearing are Jennifer Hudson from the US and the UK's Pixie Lott. It's an extraordinarily complex endeavour but works beautifully. The video was conceived by creative agency Interlude and prodco Particle3, in association with Shell's global agency J Walter Thompson.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Apr 2015: In one of the biggest deals of the year so far, as well as the largest ever between two British companies, oil giant Shell agreed to acquire its UK rival BG Group for £47bn to expand its reach in the hard-pressed oil and gas industry, still struggling with the plunge in crude prices. BG is the exploration and production division of the old British Gas group, spun off as a separate business in 1997. The merged Shell/BG would become the world's biggest independent gas producer and the global leader by far in liquefied natural gas (LNG). The deal also boosts Shell's own proved oil reserves, because of BG's two huge new development fields in East Africa and Australia.
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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: In 1833 Marcus Samuel, the son of a Jewish immigrant, opened a small shop in London to sell sea shells to natural history enthusiasts. M Samuel & Co soon became a thriving import-export business trading rice, grains, sugar and semi-precious stones as well as exotic sea shells, and after his death in 1878 the business was inherited by Marcus's sons, Marcus Jr and Samuel. They began to dabble in more lucrative ventures such as trading coal from Europe in the Far East. On a visit to the Caspian Sea coast, Marcus Samuel recognised a huge opportunity to export oil for lamps and cooking. He commissioned the building of the first oil tanker in 1892, and subsequently delivered 4,000 tonnes of Russian kerosene to Singapore and Bangkok. At the time, the oil trade in Asia as well as everywhere else was dominated by US giant Standard Oil. However Samuel & Company plunged into the fray, eventually assembling a fleet of tankers to chip away at Standard's share. Shell Transport & Trading was formed in 1897, and Samuel named each of his new ships after a different shell. In 1900 he adopted the image of a rather nondescript mussel as part of the company's logo. This was altered to become the now familiar Pecten or scallop shell in 1904.
The Samuel family were not alone in chasing the Asian market. Royal Dutch Petroleum had been formed in 1890 to exploit a new oil field in Sumatra, and under the management of Henri Deterding, it too steamed into the Far East. In 1902, Deterding engineered a marketing alliance between the two companies under the name Asiatic Petroleum to sell Samuel's Shell Spirit and Royal Dutch's Crown Oil. This was then extended in 1907 to an effective merger of the two companies' operations to mount a combined assault on Standard and other rivals. By 1910, the popularity of Shell Spirit was such that the two companies abandoned the Crown brand to sell all their produce under the Shell brand. By this time, the Samuel brothers had stepped back from the business, leaving Deterding in charge of the development of the increasingly extensive global business. Knighted in 1898, Marcus Samuel later became the first Viscount Bearstead and also served as Lord Mayor of London. He died in 1927. (M Samuel & Co continued as a separate business, eventually becoming a merchant bank. In 1965 it merged with another bank to form Hill Samuel, later part of Lloyds TSB Group.)
Demand for fuels soared during the first decades of the century, led first by the development and popularisation of motor cars, and then of aircraft. The group expanded dramatically, acquiring other businesses and energy fields in Europe, Africa and the Americas. A key development was the break-up of Standard Oil by the US government in 1911. Initially Royal Dutch Shell simply imported quantities of Sumatran oil into the US market, but began buying a string of refineries and producers in 1916. In 1922, it acquired Union Oil of Delaware and consolidated its interests in the country as publicly held Shell Union Oil. By 1929 Shell's products were available nationwide in the US.
By the 1960s, continuing expansion made Shell a global giant in the oil industry, supplying almost 15% of all the world's oil products. During the 1970s the company made important discoveries of oil and natural gas reserves in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland, just as the world was facing an oil crisis triggered by price rises from the fast-expanding Middle Eastern producers. The group took its US business, the former Shell Union Oil, private in 1985, buying out the minority shareholders. (They later successfully sued the company, arguing Shell had undervalued the value of their shares). Around the same time the company was a pioneer in the development and launch of unleaded petrol, and discovered huge new oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, an area abandoned by other companies.
During the 1990s fierce competition forced the world's oil companies to adopt new strategies. In 1995, Shell began gradually integrating its numerous different operating companies, many of which had operated virtually as independent companies, and reformed its complex and Byzantine management structure. It also formed marketing alliances and partnerships with competitors. One of the first of these had been created in 1985, when the group merged its Japanese refining and marketing interests with those of Showa Oil to form Showa Shell. In 1997 Shell formed separate joint ventures with Amoco and Mobil to explore and produce oil resources in the US. Along similar lines to the Japanese operation, Shell and Texaco combined their refining and marketing operations in the Western US in 1998 as Equilon; a similar partnership on the East and Gulf coasts was named Motiva, with Saudi Aramco recruited as a third partner. A year later Shell and joined forces with UK gas explorer and producer BG Plc to take control of Brazil's biggest gas distributor Comgas for around $1bn, and merged its refining and marketing operations in Germany with those of RWE-DEA.
In 2001, Texaco was forced by regulators to withdraw from both US marketing ventures as a condition of its merger with Chevron. Shell took control of Equilon, which it renamed Shell Oil Products US, while Motiva became a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and Aramaco, now Saudi Refining. Shell consolidated its position in the US in 2002, acquiring Pennzoil-Quaker State for $1.8bn and then independent UK explorer and producer Enterprise Oil for $5bn. It also bought out RWE-DEA's 50% of Shell & DEA Oil for $1.35bn. In 2003 it announced a $4.2bn plan to develop the world's largest natural gas to liquids (GTL) plant in Qatar; in 2004 it began construction of the world's biggest solar power station in Germany, in partnership with Geosol.
Sir Philip Watts, chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell management committee and of UK parent Shell Transport & Trading, came under severe pressure over the shock restatement of the group's reserves at the end of 2003, and especially over what was perceived to be poor handling of the announcement and a lack of regard for shareholders' concerns. As a result he was obliged to resign his position in March 2004. Walter van der Vijver, CEO of the group's Exploration & Production businesses, also resigned. Shell subsequently agreed to pay $151m in fines to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK's Financial Services Authority. It still faces a number of other hurdles, including a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice, investigation by Dutch regulators and several class action lawsuits from shareholders, as well as a $1.5bn claim from the government of Nigeria for environmental damage. In 2004 the group raised around $615m by agreeing to sell its natural gas pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico to Enbridge of Canada. See full profile for current activities
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