Skip to main content
Select Source:

Amoco Corporation

Amoco Corporation

200 East Randolph Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
U.S.A.
(312) 856-6111
Fax: (312) 856-2460

Public Company
Incorporated:
1889 as Standard Oil Company (Indiana)
Employees: 43,205
Sales: $29.32 billion
Stock Exchanges: New York Midwest Pacific Toronto Basel
Geneva Lausanne Zürich
SICs: 1311 Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas; 2911 Petroleum
Refining; 2869 Industrial Organic Chemicals Not
Elsewhere Classified; 6719 Holding Companies Not
Elsewhere Classified

Amoco Corporation is active in three main fields within the petroleum, natural gas, and chemical industries: exploration and production, petroleum products, and chemical products. Amoco is the largest producer of natural gas in North America, sells gasoline through more than 9,600 service stations in 30 states, and produces such chemical products as polymers, fabrics, fibers, and chemical feedstocks. It currently searches for oil and natural gas in 25 countries, a much more targeted exploration operation than in previous years.

Amoco has been in business since 1889, though it was known as Standard Oil Company (Indiana) until its name was changed in 1985. The company was formed outside Whiting, Indiana, a location chosen by John Rockefellers Standard Oil Trust as a refinery site close enough to sites in the growing midwestern market to keep freight costs low, yet far enough away to avoid disturbing residents.

From the beginning, the Whiting facility was organized as a self-supporting entity, planning for long-term expansion. Though refining was its main activity, it also constructed oil barrels for transportation and manufactured an oil-based product line consisting of axle grease, harness oil, paraffin wax for candles, and kerosene produced from the crude oil. The oil itself flowed to Chicago and other midwestern cities via two pipes originating in Lima, Ohio. Land transportation began on the refinerys grounds, at a railroad terminal belonging to the Chicago & Calumet Terminal Railroad, a company over which a Standard Oil interest had gained control. This terminals placement gave the company exclusive use of the tracks, access to the West and the Southwest, and a direct route that eliminated the expense of switching tolls.

Standard (Indiana) had no direct marketing organization of its own. After the Standard Oil Trust was liquidated in 1892 by order of the Ohio Supreme Court, the 20 companies under its jurisdiction reverted to their former status and became subsidiaries of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey). The functions of Standard Oil (Indiana) were then expanded to include marketing.

The companys capitalization was increased from $500,000 to $1 million, which was divided into $100 shares. Standard Oil still owned about 54 percent of Standard (Indiana). Standard (Indiana) used the extra cash to buy Standard Oil Company (Minnesota) and Standard Oil Company (Illinois), formerly P.C. Hanford Oil Company, an oil-marketing organization in Chicago. The extra capital expanded Standards sales territory, which was broadened even further when the property of Chester Oil Company of Minnesota was bought. Other acquisitions followed, and by 1901 the company was marketing through its own organization in 11 states.

At first, Standard (Indiana) had few competitors in the petroleum-product market. It enjoyed about 88 percent of the business in kerosene and heavy fuel oil. After competition began to grow, Standard (Indiana) fought back with strategically placed bulk storage stations and subsidiary companies in competitive areas that cut prices and drove competitors out. Earnings rose from $605,781 in 1896 to a high of almost $4.2 million in 1899, but the companys competitive practices and its growing market share made it the target of government agencies. In 1911, after a court battle lasting almost three years, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) the parent company to Standard (Indiana) and other Standard companieswas ordered to relinquish supervision of its subsidiaries.

Gasoline sales had risen from 31.6 million gallons to 1.57 billion between 1897 and 1911. Once independent, Standard (Indiana) began to cater to the burgeoning automobile market, opening a Minneapolis, Minnesota, service station in 1912. Chicagos first service station opened in 1913, and by 1918, there were 451 altogether. Together with growing sales of road oil, asphalt, and other supporting products, the automotive industry provided one-third of all Standard (Indiana) business.

To get as much gasoline out of each barrel of crude as possible, Standard formulated the cracking process, which doubled the yield by separating the oils molecules, by means of heat and pressure, into a dense liquid plus a lighter product that would boil in gasolines range. The possibility of cheaper gasoline and a new line of petroleum-based products made the method attractive to other refiners, who licensed it, accounting for 34 percent of the companys total profits between 1913 and 1922.

With the end of World War I, company chairman Colonel Robert Stewarts top priority was to find a secure source of crude oil, to meet the rapidly expanding demand for gasoline and kerosene. Before the war, Standard had depended on the Prairie Oil and Gas Company for its supply, but military needs diverted Prairies crude to the refineries along the Atlantic seaboard. To obtain a reliable source of crude oil, Stewart acquired 33 percent of Midwest Refining Company of Wyoming, in 1920. A half interest in the Sinclair Pipe Company was purchased in 1921, for $16.4 million in cash, improving transportation capacity. Sinclairs 2,900 miles of pipeline ran from north Texas to Chicago, encompassed almost 6,000 wells, and ran through oil-rich Wyoming.

Standard bought an interest in the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company in 1925. The interest, costing $37.6 million, was the largest oil consolidation in the history of the industry, giving Standard (Indiana) access to one of the worlds largest tanker fleets and entry into oil fields in Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq. In 1929 Standard (Indiana) acquired another chunk of Pan American stock through a stock swap, bringing its total ownership of Pan American to 81 percent.

Pan American also introduced Standard to the American Oil Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. Started by the Blaustein family, American Oil marketed most of Pan Americans oil in the eastern United States and was 50 percent-owned by Pan American and 50 percent-owned by the Blausteins. The Blausteins were initiators of the first measuring gasoline-pump and inventors of the high-octane Amoco-Gas that reduced engine knocking.

Though expensive, these investments proved to be sound; by 1929, the Depression notwithstanding, Standard Oil (Indiana) was second only to Standard Oil (New Jersey) as a buyer of crude oil. Equally profitable as a supplier, the companys net earnings for 1929 were $78.5 million after taxes.

In 1929 Stewart was followed as CEO by Edward G. Seubert, who continued to strengthen Standards crude oil supply. With an eye to future supply security, Seubert shifted the emphasis to buying and developing crude oil-producing properties like McMan Oil and Gas Company, a 1930 purchase that provided 10,000 barrels daily. Also in 1930, Standard acquired both the remaining 50 percent interest in the Sinclair Pipe Line Company and the Sinclair Crude Oil Purchasing Company for $72.5 million, giving it control over one of the countrys largest pipeline systems and crude oil buying agencies. These subsidiaries now became the Stanolind Pipe Line Company and the Stanolind Crude Oil Purchasing Company; they were joined in 1931 by the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company, a newly organized subsidiary absorbing several smaller ones.

In 1929 a retail venture called the Atlas Supply Company, which was co-organized with five other Standard firms, had been organized to sell automobile tires and other accessories nationwide. The Great Depression, however, made competition fierce by the end of 1930. Even worse conditions threatened after the largest oil field in history was found in east Texas in late 1930. The new field caused production to rise quickly to a daily average of 300,000 barrels in 1931, glutting the market. Ruthless price-cutting followed. Standard (Indiana) did not engage in this practice, preferring instead to curtail exploration and drilling activities. As a result, only 49.9 billion barrels were produced in 1931, as against 55.1 billion the year before, and the companys 13 domestic facilities operated well below capacity. The 45,073 employees worked on construction projects, and accepted wage cuts and part-time employment to minimize layoffs. The flow of cheap crude oil continued, often in excess of limits set by state regulatory bodies; gas sales were accompanied by premiums like candy, ash trays, and cigarette lighters. Track-side stations, where gasoline was pumped from the tank car into the customers automobile, posed another price-cutting threat. Also prevalent were cooperatives organized by farmers, who would buy tank cars of gasoline for distribution among members to save money. These conditions caused 1932 earnings to reach only $16.5 milliondown from $17.5 million in 1931.

In 1932 Standard decided to sell Pan Americans foreign interests to Standard Oil (New Jersey). These properties cost Standard Oil (New Jersey) just under $48 million cash plus about 1.8 million shares of Standard Oil (New Jersey) stock.

By 1934 the worst of the Depression was over. Activities in Texas led the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company to the Hastings field, which held 43 producing wells by the end of 1935. Also in 1935, more oil-producing acreage in east Texas came with Stanolind Oil & Gas Companys $42 million purchase of the properties of Beaumont-based Yount-Lee Oil Company, an acquisition that helped Stanolind Oil & Gas to increase its daily average production to 68,965 barrels.

During the 1930s overproduction began to threaten, and federal and state governments tried to curb oil production with heavy taxes. Standard felt the bite in Iowas 1935 chain-store tax, which could not be justified by their service stations profit margin. The company therefore turned back leased stations to their owners, and leased company-owned stations to independent operators, to be operated as separate outlets. By the following July, all 11,685 Standard (Indiana) service stations were independently operated and the company was once more primarily a producer distributing oil at wholesale prices. This move spurred the newly independent entrepreneurs, whose increased sales helped to achieve a net profit for Standard of $30.2 million for 1935.

When Standard reached its 50th year in 1939, during World War II, its research chemists were working to improve the high-octane fuels needed for military and transport planes. Standards engineers cooperated with other companies to build the pipelines necessary for oil transportation. By 1942, the Big Inch pipeline carried a daily load of 300,000 barrels of crude from Texas to the East Coast, where most of it was used to support the war effort. Loss of manpower and government steel restrictions curbed operations, yet the company produced 47 million barrels of crude and purchased about 102 million barrels from outside sources. Other wartime products from Standard plants included paraffin wax coatings for military food rations, toluene (the main ingredient for TNT), butane, and butylène for aviation gasoline and synthetic rubber.

On January I, 1945, Seubert retired as president and chief executive officer of the company. He left behind him 33,244 employees, sales of crude oil topping the 1944 figure by 37.1 percent, and a gross income of $618.9 million. Seubert was succeeded as chairman and CEO by Robert E. Wilson, formerly president of Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company, and Alonzo W. Peake became president. Peake had been vice-president of production.

The management style instituted by Wilson and Peake differed from the centralized, solo authority Seubert preferred. The two men split the supervisory authority, with no overlap of direct authority. Wilson was responsible for finance, research and development, law, and industrial relations, while Peakes commitments included refining, production, supply and transportation, and sales and long-range planning. Responsibility for operating subsidiaries was split between the two. The result was a decentralized organization, making for swifter, more cooperative decision-making at all levels.

In 1948 Stanolind Oil & Gas formed a foreign exploration department to head exploration attempts in Canada and other countries. The new team spent more than $98 million by 1950, with Canada and the Gulf of Mexico its prime targets.

By 1952 Standard Oil (Indiana) was acknowledged as the nations largest domestic oil company. It possessed 12 refineries able to market its products in 41 states, plus almost 5,000 miles of crude oil gathering lines, 10,000 miles of trunk lines and 1,700 miles of refined product pipelines. By 1951, gross income had reached $1.54 billion.

In 1955 Peake retired as president, to be succeeded by former Executive Vice-president Frank Prior, who inherited the problem of a decrease in allowable production days in the state of Texas, as a result of additions to oil reserves in the state. The rising amount of imported oil was another problem that arose during Peakes tenure. The total had swelled from 490,000 barrels per day in 1951 to 660,000 barrels in 1954.

Nevertheless, cheaper international exploration costs spurred Standard (Indiana) to again become active in the growing foreign oil arena that it had all but left in 1932 when it sold Pan Americans foreign interests. To handle international land leasing and joint ventures, the company organized Pan American International Oil Corporation in New York, as a subsidiary of Pan American Petroleum. Foreign operations included exploration rights for 13 million acres in Cuba, obtained in 1955; a subsidiary company formed in Venezuela in 1958, for joint exploration of 180,000 acres together with other companies; and 23 million acres obtained for exploration in Libya.

The traditional oil-industry profit arrangement for international activities had been an even split between the company and the host government, though several firms had quietly bent the guidelines. Standard (Indiana) broke openly with this custom in a 1958 deal with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), in which Standard (Indiana) split the profits evenly, then gave NIOC half of its own share, to which it added a $25 million bonus.

The late 1950s also saw domestic reorganization. In 1957 the company consolidated nine subsidiaries into four larger companies. Stanolind Oil & Gas Company became Pan American Petroleum Corporation, consolidating all Standard Oil (Indiana) crude oil and natural gas exploration and production. American Oil Pipe Line Company, a former subsidiary of American Oil, was merged into Service Pipe Line Companywhich had been known as Stanolind Pipe Line Company until 1950focused on oil transport. Crude oil and natural gas purchasing operations were combined to form the Indiana Oil Purchasing Company; and Amoco Chemicals Corporation consolidated all chemical activities into a single organization. Total income for 1957 was about $2 billion.

In 1960 company President John Swearingen succeeded Prior as chief executive officer, the chairmanship being left vacant. Swearingen turned both domestic and foreign operations over to subsidiaries, making Standard Oil (Indiana) entirely a holding company. Operating assets were transferred to the American Oil Company, into which the Utah Oil Refining Company was also merged. American Oils responsibilities now included the manufacture, transport, and sale of all company petroleum products in 45 states, though limited marketing operations in three other states were also maintained. This consolidation allowed the company to develop a national image and provided more efficiency in staff use and storage and transport flexibility. Coverage being national, the company was able to advertise nationally and demand better rates from ground and air transporters.

Standard (Indiana) also became concerned with product trade names. The 1911 breakup had left several former Standard (New Jersey) subsidiaries in different areas of the country with the Standard Oil name and rights to the associated trademarks. American Oil thus had the right to use the Standard name only in the 15 midwestern states that had been the companys original territory. Thus, in 1957, the word American, together with the Standard Oil (Indiana) logo, was used in all other states. Since a five-letter name was easier for motorists to note, in 1961 the company began to replace the brand name American with Amoco, the name first coined by American Oils original owners for the high-octane, anti-knock gasoline that had powered the Charles Lindbergh trans-Atlantic flight. Familiar within the company since the 1945 organization of the Amoco Chemicals Corporation, Amoco was used increasingly on products and by subsidiaries, until, by 1971, major subsidiaries everywhere had Amoco in their names.

In 1961 Standards total income reached almost $2.1 billion, yielding net earnings of $153.9 million. Continuing with methodical reorganization, Swearingen oversaw the expansion and modernization of the companys domestic refining capacity as well as 11 of its 14 catalytic cracking units. An aggressive marketing program featured large, strategically placed retail outlets, plus the addition of Avis car-rental privileges to the credit-card services that had been in operation since the early 1930s. By the end of 1966 there were 5.5 million card holders, encouraging American Oil to go national with its motor club.

Because only 8 percent of its assets were located overseas, Standard (Indiana) still lacked a large foreign market for crude oil. Swearingen moved swiftly to close the gap. By 1964 foreign explorations were taking place in Mozambique, Indonesia, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, and Iran. Refining and marketing were also flourishing, through the acquisition of a 25,000-barrel-per-day refinery near Cremona, Italy, and about 700 Italian service stations. About 250 service stations were also opened in Australia in 1961, along with a 25,000-barrel-per-day refinery. Other foreign refineries were to be found in West Germany, England, Pakistan, and the West Indies. In 1967 Standard began production in the Persian Gulf Cyrus field, by which time the huge El Morgan field in the Gulf of Suez was producing 45,000 barrels daily.

The market for Standards chemical products also increased during the mid-1960s. To keep pace with demand for the raw materials used in polyester fiber and film, the company built a new facility at Decatur, Alabama, in 1965, adding another in Texas City, Texas, a year later. There were also 641 retail chemical-fertilizer outlets in the Midwest and the South. The popularity of polystyrene for packaging also grew. All these advances ensured profitability; overall chemical sales rose to $158 million by the end of 1967, on total revenues of almost $3.6 billion.

Fuel shortages and the wave of OPEC price rises, nationalizations, and takeovers of the early 1970s underlined the importance of oil exploration. Swearingens strategy was to accumulate as much domestic exploration acreage as possible before other companies acted, while organizing production in developing foreign markets that were not too competitive.

To capitalize on concern about air pollution, the company introduced a 91-octane lead-free gasoline in 1970 at a cost in excess of $100 million. Though motorists were initially reluctant to accept the 2c̷-per-gallon price rise, the 1973 appearance of catalytic converters on new cars assured the success of the fuel.

Environmental matters came to the fore again in 1978, when an Amoco International Oil Company tanker, the Amoco Cadiz suffered steering failure during a storm and ran aground off the French coast, leaking about 730,000 gallons of oil into the sea. The huge oil spill cost $75 million to clean up, and left its mark on the areas tourist trade as well as its ecosystem. The French government brought a $300 million lawsuit against Amoco that eventually led to an $128 million judgment against Amoco. Amoco appealed the ruling, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago not only upheld the judgment but also increased it to $281 million. Amoco chose not appeal this ruling and paid the French government $243 million and the affected Brittany communities $38 million.

In late December 1978 the Shah of Iran was overthrown, and Standard (Indiana) hurriedly closed its Iranian facility and evacuated American staff members after all American employees of Amoco Iran Oil Company received death threats. The year 1978 had seen record-breaking production in Iran, and its loss resulted in a 35 percent production decrease in the companys overseas operations. Despite these turbulent events, net income was $1.5 billion in 1971, on total revenues of $20.197 billion.

By the end of the 1970s, chemical production accounted for about 7 percent of company earnings. To gain more visibility with consumers, Standard (Indiana) began to stress end-product manufacture as well as the production of ingredients used in manufacturing processes. The trend had begun in 1968, when polypropylene manufacturer Avisun Corporation was purchased by Amoco Chemicals Corporation from Sun Oil Company. The $80 million price tag included Patchoque-Plymouth Company, maker of polypropylene carpet backing. By 1986 a 100-color line plus improved stain resistance made Amoco Fabrics & Fibers Companys petrochemical-based Genesis carpeting a serious competitor of the stain-resistant carpeting offered by du Pont. Other strategies focused on market stimulation for basic industrial products. Since this required specialized marketing skills, the company divided its chemical operations among four subsidiaries.

In 1983 John Swearingen retired as chairman of the board. In his stead came Richard W. Morrow, who had been president of the Amoco Chemicals Corporation from 1974 until 1978, before assuming the Standard (Indiana) presidency in 1978. In 1985 Standard Oil Company (Indiana) changed its name to Amoco Corporation. Morrow also presided over the 1988 acquisition of Dome Petroleum, Ltd. of Canada, which was later merged into Amoco Canada. Dome, owning 28.7 million acres of undeveloped, arctic-region land, improved Amocos oil and gas reserves. The Dome purchase was hard-won, costing Amoco $4.2 billion. Other chances to expand oil and gas exploration in 1988 came with the acquisition of Tenneco Oil Companys Rocky Mountain properties, for approximately $900 million.

Amoco Corporation began the 1990s with record revenues of $31.58 billion and net income of $1.91 billion. By 1990, the need for raw materials had expanded internationally, moving strongly towards Europe and the Far East. Joint ventures in Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan met the growing demand for polyester fibers, helping to generate about 35 percent of business overseas.

H. Laurence Fuller took over as chairman in 1991 amidst a downturn in Amoco profits owing to weakening demand for petroleum products and reduced prices caused by the recession. Revenues fell to $28.3 billion in 1991 and to $26.22 billion in 1992, while net income declined to $1.17 billion and $850 million, respectively. Fuller aimed not only to turn around the companys fortunes but also to overtake Exxon, the top U.S. oil company, in profitability. Fuller began this effort with a 1992 restructuring intended to reduce costs and improve efficiency. 8,500 employees were axed16 percent of Amocos work forcecontributing to $600 million in savings. Exploration operations were cut back from a wildcatting strategy spread out over more than 100 countries to a targeted search for oil and gas in 20 countries with proven reserves. China became a prime target area; after establishing an offshore drilling operation in 1987, Amoco signed a deal in 1992 to become the first foreign company to explore the mainland, thought to hold more than 20 billion barrels of oil.

This restructuring served as prelude to an even larger reorganization effort initiated in 1994. 4,500 more jobs would be cut over the next two years, with projected savings of $1.2 billion each year. Amocos organizational structure was completely overhauled. The three major subsidiariesAmoco Production Company, Amoco Oil Company, and Amoco Chemical Companythat had been responsible for the three major areas of operation were replaced by a decentralized structure with 17 business groups divided into three sectors: exploration and production, petroleum products, and chemicals. A Shared Services organization was created to share the resources of Amocos support operations.

Amocos chemical operations were overhauled during these restructurings by shedding such weak areas as oil well chemicals and by increasing expenditures in fast-growing areas such as polyester. One result was that profits from Amocos chemical sector increased from $68 million in 1991 to $574 million in 1994 thanks in large part to its 40 percent share of the world market in paraxylene and purified terephthalic acid, both used to make polyester, the demand for which grew dramatically, especially in Asia.

New product expenditures were also bolstered during this period. With demand for alternative and cleaner-burning fuels on the rise, Amoco introduced Crystal Clear Ultimate, a cleaner-burning premium gasoline, and test-marketed compressed natural gas for use by fleet operators. Also tested were shared service stations which offered Amoco gas and fast food from (McDonalds and Burger King), or such services as dry cleaning (DryClean U.S.A.). These tests were so successful that Amoco planned to roll out 100 such units in 1995 at a cost of $100 million. Amoco also embarked in 1994 on a drive to become a leader in natural gas-powered electricity generation. That year it created Amoco Power Resources Corporation to pursue this venture and purchased a 10 percent interest in electricity facilities in Trinidad and Tobago.

With the cost of oil and gas exploration soaring and lean operations not able to withstand the failure of a risky venture, more and more oil companies turned to joint ventures in the early and mid-1990s to spread the risk. Amoco was a member of a ten-company consortium that signed an agreement in 1994 with the Republic of Azerbaijan to develop oil fields in the Caspian Sea. Also in 1994 Amoco joined with rivals Shell Oil and Exxon to finance a $1 billion offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, to be the worlds deepest. And in 1995 Shell and Amoco created a limited partnership to develop oil fields in the Permian Basin area of west Texas and southeast New Mexico.

Under Fullers guidance, Amoco seemed well-positioned to challenge Exxon for the top spot in U.S. petroleum. Revenues had once again surpassed $30 billion by 1994 and net income had rebounded to $1.79 billion. Amocos lean and targeted operation and its reinvigorated chemical sector provided it with a strong position from which to grow in the increasingly competitive 1990s.

Principal Subsidiaries

Amoco Company; Amoco Leasing Corp.; Amoco Pipeline Co.; Amoco Power Resources Corporation; Amoco Properties Inc.; Amoco Realty Co.; Amoco Research Corp.; Amoco Technology Co.; AmProp Finance Corp.; Solarex Corp.; Amoco Canada Energy Ltd.; Amoco Canada Petroleum Co. Ltd.; Amoco Canada Resources Ltd.; Amoco Holding G.m.b.H. (Germany); Amoco Chemical (Europe) S.A. (Switzerland); Amoco Chemical (UK) Ltd.

Further Reading

Chelminski, Rudolph, Superwreck: Amoco, The Shipwreck That Had to Happen, New York, Morrow, 1987, 254 p.

Cook, James, First-Rate Company, Forbes, May 1, 1989, pp. 84-85.

Corporate Restructuring 90s Style: Merge and Purge, Lean and Mean, National Petroleum News, September 1994, pp. 16-18.

Dedmon, Emmett, Challenge and Response: A Modern History of Standard Oil Company (Indiana), Chicago: Mobium Press, 1984, 324 p.

Fairhall, David, The Wreck of the Amoco Cadiz, New York: Stein and Day, 1980, 248 p.

Giddens, Paul Henry, Standard Oil Company (Indiana): Oil Pioneer of the Middle West, New York: Arno Press, 1976, c1955, 741 p.

Mack, Toni, Catching up to Exxon, Forbes, March 13, 1995, pp. 64, 66.

Melcher, Richard A., Peter Burrows, and Tim Smart, Remaking Big Oil: The Desperate Rush to Slash Costs, Business Week, August 8, 1994, pp. 20-21.

Therrien, Lois, Amoco: Running Smoother on Less Gas, Business Week, February 15, 1993, pp. 110-112.

Whittle-Down Economics, Oil and Gas Investor, November 1992, pp. 43-46.

Gillian Wolf
updated by David E. Salamie

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/amoco-corporation-0

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/amoco-corporation-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Amoco Corporation

Amoco Corporation

200 East Randolph Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60601
U.S.A.
(312) 856-6111
Fax: (312) 856-2460

Public Company
Incorporated:
1889 as Standard Oil Company (Indiana)
Employees: 54,524 Sales: $31.58 billion
Stock Exchanges: New York Midwest Pacific Toronto Basel Geneva Lausanne Zürich

Amoco Corporation operates in more than 40 countries, in fields that include petroleum and natural gas exploration, manufacture, marketing and transportation, plus the manufacture and sales of polymers, fabrics, and fibers. Other ventures involve hazardous waste incineration, medical diagnostic products, and lasers.

Amoco has been in business since 1889, though it was known as Standard Oil Company (Indiana) until its name was changed in 1985. The company was formed outside Whiting, Indiana, a location chosen by John Rockefellers Standard Oil Trust as a refinery site close enough to sites in the growing midwestern market to keep freight costs low, yet far enough away to avoid disturbing residents.

From the beginning, the Whiting facility was organized as a self-supporting entity, planning for long-term expansion. Though refining was its main activity, it also constructed oil barrels for transportation, and manufactured an oil-based product line consisting of axle grease, harness oil, paraffin wax for candles, and kerosene produced from the crude oil. The oil itself flowed to Chicago and other midwestern cities via two pipes originating in Lima, Ohio. Land transportation began on the refinerys grounds, at a railroad terminal belonging to the Chicago & Calumet Terminal Railroad, a company over which a Standard Oil interest had gained control. This terminals placement gave the company exclusive use of the tracks, access to the West and the Southwest, and a direct route that eliminated the expense of switching tolls.

Standard (Indiana) had no direct marketing organization of its own. After the Standard Oil Trust was liquidated in 1892 by order of the Ohio Supreme Court, the 20 companies under its jurisdiction reverted to their former status, and became subsidiaries of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey). The functions of Standard Oil (Indiana) were then expanded to include marketing.

The companys capitalization was now increased from $500,000 to $1 million, and divided into $100 shares. Standard Oil still owned about 54% of Standard (Indiana). Standard (Indiana) used the extra cash to buy Standard Oil Company (Minnesota) and Standard Oil Company (Illinois), formerly P.C. Hanford Oil Company, an oil-marketing organization in Chicago. The extra capital expanded Standards sales territory, which was broadened even further when the property of Chester Oil Company of Minnesota was bought. Other acquisitions followed; by 1901 the company was marketing through its own organization in 11 states.

At first Standard (Indiana) had few competitors in the petroleum-product market, and enjoyed about 88% of the business in kerosene and heavy fuel oil. After competition began to grow, Standard (Indiana) fought back with strategically placed bulk storage stations and subsidiary companies in competitive areas that cut prices and drove competitors out. Earnings rose from $605,781 in 1896 to a high of almost $4.2 million in 1899, but the companys competitive practices and its growing market share made it the target of government agencies. In 1911, after a court battle lasting almost three years, Standard Oil Company (New Jersey)the parent company to Standard (Indiana) and other Standard companies-was ordered to relinquish its supervision of its subsidiaries.

Gasoline sales had risen from 31.6 million gallons to 1.57 billion between 1897 and 1911. Once independent, Standard (Indiana) began to cater to the burgeoning automobile market, opening a Minneapolis, Minnesota, service station in 1912. Chicagos first service station opened in 1913, and by 1918, there were 451 altogether. Together with growing sales of road oil, asphalt, and other supporting products, the automotive industry provided one-third of all Standard (Indiana) business.

To get as much gasoline out of each barrel of crude as possible, Standard formulated the cracking process, that doubled the yield by separating the oils molecules, by means of heat and pressure, into a dense liquid plus a lighter product that would boil in gasolines range. The possibility of cheaper gasoline and a new line of petroleum-based products made the method attractive to other refiners, who licensed it, accounting for 34% of the companys total profits between 1913 and 1922.

With the end of World War I, company chairman Colonel Robert Stewarts top priority was to find a secure source of crude oil, to meet the rapidly expanding demand for gasoline and kerosene. Before the war, Standard had depended on the Prairie Oil and Gas Company for its supply, but military needs diverted Prairies crude to the refineries along the Atlantic seaboard. To obtain a reliable source of crude oil, Stewart acquired 33% of Midwest Refining Company of Wyoming, in 1920. A half interest in the Sinclair Pipe Company was purchased in 1921, for $16.4 million in cash, improving transportation capacity. Sinclairs 2,900 miles of pipeline ran from north Texas to Chicago, encompassed almost 6,000 wells, and ran through oil-rich Wyoming.

Standard bought an interest in the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company in 1925. The interest, costing $37.6 million, was the largest oil consolidation in the history of the industry, giving Standard (Indiana) access to one of the worlds largest tanker fleets and entry into oil fields in Mexico, Venezuela, and Iraq. In 1929 Standard (Indiana) acquired another chunk of Pan American stock through a stock swap, bringing its total ownership of Pan American to 81 %.

Pan American also introduced Standard to the American Oil Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. Started by the Blaustein family, American Oil marketed most of Pan Americans oil in the eastern United States, and was 50%-owned by Pan American and 50%-owned by the Blausteins. The Blausteins were initiators of the first measuring gasoline-pump and inventors of the high-octane Amoco-Gas that reduced engine knocking.

Though expensive, these investments proved to be sound; by 1929, the Depression notwithstanding, Standard Oil (Indiana) was second only to Standard Oil (New Jersey) as a buyer of crude oil. Equally profitable as a supplier, the companys net earnings for 1929 were $78.5 million after taxes.

In 1929 Stewart was followed as CEO by Edward G. Seubert, who continued to strengthen Standards crude oil supply. With an eye to future supply security, Seubert shifted the emphasis to buying and developing crude oil-producing properties like McMan Oil and Gas Company, a 1930 purchase that provided 10,000 barrels daily. Also in 1930, Standard acquired both the remaining 50% interest in the Sinclair Pipe Line Company and the Sinclair Crude Oil Purchasing Company for $72.5 milllion, giving it control over one of the countrys largest pipeline systems and crude oil buying agencies. These subsidiaries now became the Stanolind Pipe Line Company and the Stanolind Crude Oil Purchasing Company; they were joined in 1931 by the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company, a newly organized subsidiary absorbing several smaller ones.

In 1929 a retail venture called the Atlas Supply Company, which was co-organized with five other Standard firms, had been organized to sell automobile tires and other accessories nationwide. Nevertheless, the Depression made competition fierce by the end of 1930. Even worse conditions threatened after the largest oil field in history was found in east Texas in late 1930. The new field caused production to rise quickly to a daily average of 300,000 barrels in 1931, glutting the market. Ruthless price-cutting followed. Standard (Indiana) did not engage in this practice, preferring instead to curtail exploration and drilling activities. As a result, only 49.9 billion barrels were produced in 1931, as against 55.1 billion the year before, and the companys 13 domestic facilities operated well below capacity. The 45,073 employees worked on construction projects, and accepted wage cuts and part-time employment to minimize layoffs. The flow of cheap crude oil continued, often in excess of limits set by state regulatory bodies; gas sales were accompanied by premiums like candy, ash trays, and cigarette lighters. Track-side stations, where gasoline was pumped from the tank car into the customers automobile, posed another price-cutting threat. Also prevalent were cooperatives organized by farmers, who would buy tank cars of gasoline for distribution among members to save money. These conditions caused 1932 earnings to reach only $16.5 milliondown from 1931s $17.5 million.

In 1932 Standard decided to sell Pan Americans foreign interests to Standard Oil (New Jersey). These properties cost Standard Oil (New Jersey) just under $48 million cash plus about 1.8 million shares of Standard Oil (New Jersey) stock.

By 1934 the worst of the Depression was over. Activities in Texas led the Stanolind Oil & Gas Company to the Hastings field, which held 43 producing wells by the end of 1935. Also in 1935, more oil-producing acreage in east Texas came with Stanolind Oil & Gas Companys $42 million purchase of the properties of Beaumont-based Yount-Lee Oil Company, an acquisition that helped Stanolind Oil & Gas to increase its daily average production to 68,965 barrels.

During the 1930s overproduction began to threaten, and federal and state governments tried to curb oil production with heavy taxes. Standard felt the bite in Iowas 1935 chain-store tax, which could not be justified by their service stations profit margin. The company therefore turned back leased stations to their owners, and leased company-owned stations to independent operators, to be operated as separate outlets. By the following July all 11,685 Standard (Indiana) service stations were independently operated, and the company was once more a producer distributing oil at wholesale prices. This move spurred the newly independent entrepreneurs, whose increased sales helped to achieve a net profit of $30.2 million for 1935.

When Standard reached its 50th year in 1939, during World War II, its research chemists were working with improving the high-octane fuels required by military and transport planes. In other moves, Standards engineers cooperated with other companies to build the pipelines necessary for oil transportation; by 1942, the Big Inch pipeline carried a daily load of 300,000 barrels of crude from Texas to the East Coast, where most of it was used to support the war effort. Loss of manpower and government steel restrictions curbed operations, yet the company produced 47 million barrels of crude, and purchased about 102 million barrels from outside sources. Other wartime products from Standard plants included paraffin wax coatings for military food rations, toluenethe main ingredient for TNT butane and butylene for aviation gasoline, and synthetic rubber.

On January 1, 1945, Seubert retired as president and chief executive officer of the company. He left behind him 33,244 employees, of whom 5,055 were women; sales of crude oil topping the 1944 figure by 37.1%; and a gross income of $618.9 million. Seubert was succeeded as chairman and CEO by Robert E. Wilson, formerly president of Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company, and Alonzo W. Peake became president. Peake had been vice president of production.

The management style instituted by Wilson and Peake differed from the centralized, solo authority Seubert preferred. The two men split the supervisory authority, with no overlap of direct authority. Wilson was responsible for finance, research and development, law, and industrial relations, while Peakes commitments included refining, production, supply and transportation, and sales and long-range planning. Responsibility for operating subsidiaries was split between the two. The result was a decentralized organization, making for swifter, more cooperative decision-making at all levels.

In 1948 Stanolind Oil & Gas formed a foreign exploration department to head exploration attempts in Canada and other countries. The new team spent more than $98 million by 1950, with Canada and the Gulf of Mexico its prime targets.

By 1952 Standard Oil (Indiana) was acknowledged as the nations largest domestic oil company. It possessed 12 refineries able to market its products in 41 states, plus almost 5,000 miles of crude oil gathering lines, 10,000 miles of trunk lines and 1,700 miles of refined product pipelines. By 1951, gross income had reached $1.54 billion.

In 1955 Peake retired as president, to be succeeded by former executive vice president Frank Prior, who inherited the problem of a decrease in allowable production days in the state of Texas, as a result of additions to oil reserves in the state. The rising amount of imported oil was another problem that arose during Peakes tenure. The total had swelled from 490,000 barrels per day in 1951 to 660,000 barrels in 1954.

Nevertheless, cheaper international exploration costs spurred Standard (Indiana) to again become active in the growing foreign oil arena that it had all but left in 1932 when it sold Pan Americans foreign interests. To handle international land leasing and joint ventures, the company organized Pan American International Oil Corporation in New York, as a subsidiaries of Pan American Petroleum. Foreign operations included exploration rights for 13 million acres in Cuba, obtained in 1955; a subsidiary company formed in Venezuela in 1958, for joint exploration of 180,000 acres together with other companies; and 23 million acres obtained for exploration in Libya.

The traditional oil-industry profit arrangement for international activities had been an even split between the company and the host government, though several firms had quietly bent the guidelines. Standard (Indiana) broke openly with with this custom in 1958 deal with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), in which Standard (Indiana) split the profits evenly, then gave NIOC half of its own share, to which it added a $25 million bonus.

The late 1950s also saw domestic reorganization. In 1957 the company consolidated nine subsidiary into four larger companies. Stanolind Oil & Gas Company became Pan American Petroleum Corporation, consolidating all Standard Oil (Indiana) crude oil and natural gas exploration and production. American Oil Pipe Line Company, a former subsidiary of American Oil, was merged into Service Pipe Line Companywhich had been known as Stanolind Pipe Line Company until 1950focused on oil transport. Crude oil and natural gas purchasing operations were combined to form the Indiana Oil Purchasing Company; and Amoco Chemicals Corporation consolidated all chemical activities into a single organization. Total income for 1957 was about $2 billion.

In 1960 company president John Swearingen succeeded Prior as chief executive officer, the chairmanship being left vacant. Swearingen turned both domestic and foreign operations over to subsidiaries, making Standard Oil (Indiana) entirely a holding company. Operating assets were transferred to the American Oil Company, into which the Utah Oil Refining Company was also merged. American Oils responsibilities now included the manufacturing, transport, and sale of all company petroleum products in 45 states, though limited marketing operations in three other states were also maintained. This consolidation allowed the company to develop a national image and provided more efficiency in staff use and storage and transport flexibility. Coverage being national, the company was able to advertise nationally and demand better rates from ground and air transporters.

Standard (Indiana) also became concerned with product trade names. The 1911 breakup had left several former Standard (New Jersey) subsidiaries in different areas of the country with the Standard Oil name and rights to the associated trademarks. American Oil thus had the right to use the Standard name only in the 15 midwestern states that had been the companys original territory. Thus, in 1957, the word American, together with the Standard Oil (Indiana) logo, was used in all other states. Since a five-letter name was easier for motorists to note, in 1961 the company began to replace the brand name American with Amoco, the name first coined by American Oils original owners for the high-octane, anti-knock gasoline that had powered the Charles Lindbergh trans-Atlantic flight. Familiar within the company since the 1945 organization of the Amoco Chemicals Corporation, Amoco was used increasingly on products and by subsidiaries, until, by 1971, major subsidiaries everywhere had Amoco in their names.

In 1961 Standards total income reached almost $2.1 billion, yielding net earnings of $153.9 million. Continuing with methodical reorganization, Swearingen oversaw the expansion and modernization of the companys domestic refining capacity as well as 11 of its 14 catalytic cracking units. An aggressive marketing program featured large, strategically placed retail outlets, plus the addition of Avis car-rental privileges to the credit-card services that had been in operation since the early 1930s. By the end of 1966 there were 5.5 million card holders, encouraging American Oil to go national with its motor club.

Because only 8% of its assets were located overseas, Standard (Indiana) still lacked a large foreign market for crude oil. Swearingen moved swiftly to close the gap. By 1964 foreign explorations were taking place in Mozambique, Indonesia, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, and Iran. Refining and marketing were also flourishing, through the acquisition of a 25,000-barrel-per-day refinery near Cremona, Italy, and about 700 Italian service stations. About 250 service stations were also opened in Australia in 1961, along with a 25,000-barrel-per-day refinery. Other foreign refineries were to be found in West Germany, in England, Pakistan, and the West Indies. In 1967 Standard began production in the Persian Gulf Cyrus field, by which time the huge El Morgan field in the Gulf of Suez was producing 45,000 barrels daily.

The market for Standards chemical products also increased during the mid-1960s. To keep pace with demand for the raw materials used in polyester fiber and film, the company built a new facility at Decatur, Alabama, in 1965, adding another in Texas City, Texas, a year later. There were also 641 retail chemical-fertilizer outlets in the Midwest and the South. The popularity of polystyrene for packaging also grew. All these advances ensured profitability; overall chemical sales rose to $158 million by the end of 1967, on total revenues of almost $3.6 billion.

Fuel shortages and the wave of OPEC price rises, nationalizations, and takeovers of the early 1970s underlined the importance of oil exploration. Swearingens strategy was to accumulate as much domestic exploration acreage as possible before other companies acted, while organizing production in developing foreign markets that were not too competitive.

To capitalize on concern about air pollution, the company introduced a 91-octane lead-free gasoline in 1970 at a cost in excess of $100 million. Though motorists were initially reluctant to accept the 2C-per-gallon price rise, the 1973 appearance of catalytic converters on new cars assured the success of the fuel.

Environmental matters came to the fore again in 1978, when an Amoco International Oil Company tanker, the Amoco Cadiz suffered steering failure during a storm and ran aground off the French coast, leaking about 730,000 gallons of oil into the sea. The huge oil spill cost $75 million to clean up, and left its mark on the areas tourist trade as well as its ecosystem. The French government brought a $300 million lawsuit against Amoco that, in July 1990, led to an $128 million judgment against Amoco. Amoco appealed, and a judgment was expected in 1992.

In late December 1978 the shah of Iran was overthrown, and Standard (Indiana) hurriedly closed its Iranian facility and evacuated American staff members after all American employees of Amoco Iran Oil Company received death threats. The year 1978 had seen record-breaking production in Iran, and its loss resulted in a 35% production decrease in the companys overseas operations. Despite these turbulent events, 1979s net income was $1.5 billion, on total revenues of $20.197 billion.

By the end of the 1970s, chemical production accounted for about 7% of company earnings. To gain more visibility with consumers, Standard (Indiana) began to stress end-product manufacture as well as the production of ingredients used in manufacturing processes. The trend had begun in 1968, when polypropylene manufacturer Avisun Corporation was purchased by Amoco Chemicals Corporation from Sun Oil Company. The $80 million price tag included Patchoque-Plymouth Company, maker of polypropylene carpet backing. By 1986 a 100-color line plus improved stain resistance made Amoco Fabrics & Fibers Companys petrochemical-based Genesis carpeting a serious competitor of the stain-resistant carpeting offered by Du Pont. Other strategies focused on market stimulation for basic industrial products. Since this required specialized marketing skills, the company divided its chemical operations among four subsidiaries.

In 1983 John Swearingen retired as chairman of the board. In his stead came Richard W. Morrow, who had been president of the Amoco Chemicals Corporation from 1974 until 1978, before assuming the Standard (Indiana) presidency in 1978. In 1985 Standard Oil Company (Indiana) changed its name to Amoco Corporation. Morrow also presided over the 1988 acquisition of Dome Petroleum, Ltd. of Canada, which was later merged into Amoco Canada. Dome, owning 28.7 million acres of undeveloped, arctic-region land, improved Amocos oil and gas reserves. The Dome purchase was hard-won, costing Amoco $4.2 billion. Other chances to expand oil and gas exploration in 1988 came with the acquisition of Tenneco Oil Companys Rocky Mountain properties, for approximately $900 million.

Amoco Corporation saw out the decade with total revenues of $26.7 billion, and a net income of $1.6 billion. By 1990, the need for raw materials had expanded internationally, moving strongly towards Europe and the Far East. Joint ventures in Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan met the growing demand for polyester fibers, helping to generate about 35% of business overseas. Other ventures included long-range research interests focusing on lasers, solar power and biotechnology, including genetic research.

Principal Subsidiaries

Amoco Production Company; Amoco Oil Company; Amoco Chemical Company.

Further Reading

Giddens, Paul H., Standard Oil Company (Indiana): Oil Pioneer of the Middle West, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955; Dedmon, Emmett, Challenge and Response: A Modern History of Standard Oil Company (Indiana), Chicago, Mobium Press, 1984.

Gillian Wolf

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/amoco-corporation

"Amoco Corporation." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/amoco-corporation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Amoco Corporation

Amoco Corporation

founded: 1889



Contact Information:

headquarters: 200 e. randolph dr.
chicago, il 60601-7125 phone: (312)856-6111 fax: (312)856-4883 toll free: (800)333-3991 email: [email protected] url: http://www.amoco.com

OVERVIEW

Amoco Corporation is a diversified company with three main sectors—Oil Exploration and Production, Petroleum Products, and Chemicals. With revenues exceeding $36 billion and total assets exceeding $32 billion, Amoco Corporation is one of the largest publicly traded producers of crude oil and natural gas in the world. Amoco is the thirteenth largest industrial corporation in the United States, the fifth largest oil company, and is ranked twenty-second in the 1998 Fortune 500. It is the largest producer of natural gas in North America. The company's Chemicals division was the largest producer of chemical products in the United States.




COMPANY FINANCES

Amoco's total revenues in 1997 were $31.9 billion, down slightly from 1996 revenues of $32.1 billion. Net income dropped about 4 percent from $2.8 billion in 1996 to $2.7 billion in 1997. Of 1997 revenues, Amoco's Exploration and Production sector earned $7.39 billion; Petroleum Products earned $22.79 billion; Chemical Operations earned $5.94 billion; and Corporate and Other Operations earned $48 million.

Amoco's stock price was around $41.00 per share in mid-1998. Its 52-week high was $49.50, and Amoco stock's 52-week low was $39.63. Stock prices were lower due to a 2-for-1split in 1997. During fiscal year 1997, Amoco stock ranged from $79.25 to $99.00 per share. The company paid approximately $2.80 per share in dividends in 1997—up 8 percent from 1996 ($2.60).

Amoco's net income per share during 1997 was $5.55, slightly lower than 1996 earnings per share of $5.69. As of mid-1998, earnings per share for 1998 were $2.50.




ANALYSTS' OPINIONS

All major U.S. oil companies were expected to see some sort of earnings decline due to dramatic slides in world oil prices. As reported in Tulsa World, earnings during the first part of 1998 could drop as much as 40 percent compared to last year. Analysts anticipated a drop not only in production income, but in refining and chemical operations as well. The decline in oil prices was attributed to two factors: a supply increase instituted in November of 1997 by Saudi Arabia just when demand lowered due to the Asian economic crisis; and the El Nino weather phenomenon, which brought unusually warm winter temperatures to the Northern Hemisphere. Amoco, in particular, was impacted by the drop in oil and gas prices; first quarter earnings per share were $.73, compared to $1.36 in the first quarter of 1997. However, they seemed to improve by mid-1998, rising to $2.50.

Even with these difficulties, however, PaineWebber analyst Frank Knuettel upgraded ratings for six major oil companies, including Amoco. "We think oil supply and demand will come into balance before year end which almost inevitably would generate positive earnings surprises." He warned that if that failed to happen, however, earnings would be less likely to rise. He upgraded Amoco's specific rating from "neutral" to "attractive."

Also having a positive impact on Amoco's performance was it success with a new oil well. Located in the Whitney Canyon field near Evanston, Wyoming, production of natural gas began at 60 million cubic feet per day. Amoco reported that rate was higher than any other well in the field in the last 15 years. The company also said the new well meant an increase in plant processing to about 200 million cubic feet per day; the plant was designed to process up to 250 million cubic feet of gas per day. According to Amoco's Michael Poehl, "Our early results to maximize production at Whitney Canyon have been outstanding. We expect to be at plant capacity for Whitney Canyon by year-end."




HISTORY

Amoco Corp. was incorporated on June 18, 1889, as Standard Oil Company when it built its first refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The corporation was exclusively a midwest refiner and marketer of petroleum products in its early years. In 1894 it began an unbroken record of yearly dividend payments. Prior to December 1, 1911, Amoco was a subsidiary of Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, which distributed the stock to its stockholders under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Amoco was thus separated from all the other companies in the Standard Oil Company.

The Amoco name was adopted for the corporation in 1985 to effectively eliminate name confusion and promote a common identification of the parent corporation and its subsidiaries, which market internationally under the Amoco brand. Amoco, however, still retains exclusive legal right to use the Standard Oil name for trademark purposes in certain states in the Midwest.

In 1913 Amoco pioneered an invention of the thermal cracking process, which doubled the yield of gasoline from crude oil; that same year also marked the beginning of regular quarterly dividend payments. Amoco experienced dramatic growth from post-World War I to the 1950s through the establishment of substantial crude oil production and transportation operations, additional refineries, extended marketing areas and facilities, and a start in petrochemicals. Exploration in Canada and overseas also began late in this period.

In the late 1950s Amoco consolidated and reorganized its subsidiaries into four groups for easier and more efficient management. This became the basis for the company's structure during the 1990s. In 1978 Amoco had a major disaster when the super-tanker, the Amoco Cadiz, ran on to the bottom of the shore, dumping 120,000 tons of oil off of the French coast. This spill was six times more than the well-publicized Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred in 1989 and resulted in a $128-million judgment against Amoco in 1990. In 1988, Amoco acquired Dome Petroleum of Canada, a company heavily in debt but rich in resources, making Amoco the largest private owner of natural gas reserves in North America. In the 1990s, the Amoco Corporation formed a large integrated petroleum and chemical enterprise with three main subsidiaries—Amoco Exploration and Production, Amoco Petroleum Products, and Amoco Chemicals.



STRATEGY

Amoco's primary strategy for continued corporate development was "discovery," not just in terms of finding new oil and gas deposits, but of "discovering" new opportunities, new products, new areas for growth, and new ways of working and exploiting technological challenges. Amoco also sought new business relationships in order to add value to its business, both internally (through its Shared Services organization) and externally through partnerships and alliances with companies worldwide. In 1998, Amoco planned to invest $4.2 billion in corporate capital and exploration, areas it hoped would bring better opportunity for company growth. In order to make sure those efforts would not cost the company too much financially, Amoco sold certain U.S. oil and gas holdings, amounting to approximately 10 percent of domestic production. For example, in June 1998 Amoco announced that Chevron Products Co. was acquiring Amoco's Lubricants business unit. Using these growth strategies, the company hoped to realize a 25-percent increase in exploration and production by 2001 and targeted 4-percent growth in refining and marketing.



INFLUENCES

When compared to its competitors, Amoco's performance was lagging behind. However, the company felt its continued renewal of early 1990s restructuring efforts was helping to bring about significant turnaround. The company did realize some turnaround, specifically in its exploration program, which for five years in a row (1993-1997) added more reserves than it produced. Also, the company averaged 145-percent "reserve replacement" over those same five years. Amoco attributed these favorable results to more focused exploration efforts and better use of new technology.

FAST FACTS: About Amoco Corporation


Ownership: Amoco Corp. is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ticker symbol: AN

Officers: H. Laurence Fuller, Chmn. & CEO, 59, $1,940,150; William G. Lowrie, Pres., 54, $1,223,047; John L. Carl, Exec. VP & CFO, 50; James E. Fligg, Sr. Exec. VP, Strategic Planning & Int'l Bus. Dev., 61, $1,010,301

Employees: 43,451 (1997)

Principal Subsidiary Companies: Amoco Chemical Co., Amocams/Modular Inc., Amoco Credit Co., Amoco Venture Capital Co., Amoco Technology Co., Amoco Fabrics and Fibers Co., and Amoco Pipeline Co. are some of the subsidiaries of Amoco Corporation.

Chief Competitors: As a producer and marketer of petroleum products and services, Amoco's main competitors include: Arco; Dow Chemical; Exxon; E.I. DuPont Nemours; British Petroleum; Pennzoil; Shell Oil; and Texaco.


CURRENT TRENDS

According to the Hoovers Handbook of American Business, Amoco shed its weak product lines, including its oil well chemicals business, and invested $1.7 billion in the company's faster-growing and more profitable businesses. One of the profit centers that developed as part of this move was Amoco's polyester business. In 1992, Amoco led the consortium that successfully laid a 255-mile natural gas line in the North Sea. In 1992 Amoco became the first foreign oil company to explore the Chinese mainland.

A significant year for Amoco was 1994. Amoco and Norsk Hydro, in a joint effort, evaluated the oil and natural gas exploration opportunities off the Russian Coast. The other big events were two natural gas discoveries off Trinidad and major oil discoveries in Colombia, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1995, Shell Oil and Amoco announced a limited partnership to handle most U.S. operations. Amoco was the key player in this association, owning about 65 percent of the venture.




PRODUCTS

Amoco has three main subsidiaries that deal with three distinct markets and industries. Amoco Exploration and Production is one of the world's leading producers of energy resources for a growing world economy. Holdings include more than 42 million acres of oil and gas leases on every continent except Antarctica. Worldwide net production in 1996 averaged 662,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids per day and more than 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. About 40 percent of oil and natural gas production revenues were from sources outside the United States. The Amoco Exploration and Production sector is made up of eight separate and independent business groups; each focuses on a few select areas in the world where the company expects to grow profitably through exploration, development, new ventures, and acquisitions.

The second sector is the Amoco Petroleum Products, which include refining, marketing, and transportation of fuel and other products throughout North America. In 1996, five refineries processed a total of 1 million barrels of crude oil daily. Amoco Petroleum Products market gasoline in 30 states in the United States through more than 9,000 service stations.

CHRONOLOGY: Key Dates for Amoco Corporation


1889:

Incorporates as Standard Oil Company (Indiana), a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey)

1894:

Begins unbroken record of yearly dividend payments

1911:

Standard Oil Company (Indiana) is separated from its parent and all other subsidiaries after Standard (New Jersey) was found to be in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act

1913:

Pioneers a method that doubles the yield of gasoline from crude oil

1921:

Purchases a half interest in the Sinclair Pipe Company to improve transportation capacity

1925:

Purchases for $37.6 million an interest in the Pan American Petroleum & Transport Co., achieving the largest oil consolidation in the history of the industry

1929:

Acquires through a stock swap additional stock of Pan American bringing ownership to 81 percent

1932:

Sells Pan American's foreign interests to Standard (New Jersey) for $48 million plus 1.8 million shares of Standard (New Jersey) stock

1935:

Standard (Indiana) leased company-owned stations to individual owners to get around a government tax

1942:

The Big Inch pipeline, built by several oil companies including Standard (Indiana), carried 300,000 barrels of crude from Texas to the East Coast where it was used for the war effort

1952:

Standard (Indiana) is acknowledged as the nation's largest domestic oil company

1955:

Re-enters foreign market by organizing Pan American International Oil Corporation

1961:

Standard (Indian) began replacing the brand name with Amoco, a derivative of American Oil Company, owned by Pan American

1967:

Amoco begins exploration in the Persian Gulf

1970:

Lead-free 91-octane gasoline is introduced by Amoco

1978:

The Amoco Cadiz runs aground off the French coast spilling 730,000 gallons of oil; the French government brings a $300 million lawsuit against Amoco

1985:

Standard (Indiana) officially changes its name to Amoco Corporation

1990:

Amoco appeals a $128 million judgement brought down in the French lawsuit

1998:

Sells the lubricants business unit to Chevron Products Co.


Amoco Chemicals is the third and fastest growing sector of Amoco Corp. Comprised of six business groups, Amoco Chemicals accounted for nearly 45 percent of Amoco's total revenues. Much of Amoco Chemical's growth is due to its status as the world's largest producer of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), the preferred raw material for the manufacture of polyester. Other chemical products include polybutene (used in cable insulation, fuel additives, and adhesives) and polypropylene (used in synthetic fibers for carpet backing, food and agricultural packaging, and appliances). Amoco Chemicals is well positioned to capitalize on the increasing global demand for polyester products.



CORPORATE CITIZENSHIP

Amoco documents its corporate commitment to health and environmental safety. This policy's primary purpose is "to promote respect and care for people and the environment." Each year, along with its annual report, Amoco publishes an Environmental Health & Safety Report that describes accomplishments that help Amoco meet this corporate goal and changes in environmental policy. In 1997 the Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) department completed a strategic planning process. As a result, the company reorganized the EH&S department to ensure that all areas of Amoco had access to the resources needed to apply environmental, health, and safety considerations to the corporate planning process and to business decisions.

One of Amoco's major community involvement programs is the Private Sector Initiative's Home Repair Program in Houston, Texas. As part of this initiative, Amoco volunteers join others from the Houston area to repair and paint homes of elderly and disabled homeowners. Family members join employees to replace siding, trim, broken windows, screens, exterior doors, and locks. They also powerwash the homes and repaint. As a result, more than 325 homes were updated in Houston in 1997.

THE WHITING FACTORY A CANDLE IN THE WIND

Few people know about Amoco's candlemaking history, yet from 1893 to 1956 the company operated one of the largest candle factories in the United States. Candles basically consist of paraffin wax, a by-product of the oil refining process. Thus, Amoco's involvement in this business came naturally, and the Whiting Candle Factory was established right next to the company's Whiting, Indiana, refinery.

The factory operated in the nineteenth century, when kerosene, not gasoline, was Amoco's sales leader. The Whiting Factory started producing plain white candles and so-called "pound cakes" of pure, refined wax. These were used for canning and preserving foods. Twenty years later, America's involvement in World War I led to the company's becoming one of the largest candle manufacturers in the country. In 1918 the Whiting Factory's entire production of six- and eight-inch candles was purchased by the Army for use in the trenches. Thirty-eight candle machines produced half a million candles every day. By the end of the war, Amoco had shipped a total of 285 million candles to France.

The postwar years witnessed an even stronger surge in candle demand. This was primarily due to the fact that during the war Americans noticed how candles were used for decorative purposes in Europe, particularly for the holidays. Thus, by the late 1920s, candles for religious observances accounted for fifteen percent of the factory's production. However, the greatest demand was still for the original plain white candles. They were used by plumbers, miners, and dairy distributors as well as for emergency lighting by the general public. The Whiting Candle Factory more than doubled its production capacity between 1923 and 1928 to a million pounds of wax per month. By this time Amoco was the only major oil company in the United States that manufactured candles.

During World War II, approximately 75 percent of the factory's candles were, once again, made for various military purposes. Melted wax, for example, was used to plug tent leaks. After the war, the Whiting Candle Factory accounted for about 10 percent of all candles bought in the United States. More than 150 varieties were produced, while sales were handled by only four representatives. These were the factory's peak years.

The Whiting Candle Factory was closed in 1956, after more than sixty years of operation. The reasons were twofold. First, Amoco had to seek more profitable opportunities through its primary line of products, and secondly, candle production had declined in the later years as more wax was being sold to other producers and manufacturers of wax products. The fact remains that many people, especially former G.I.s, have fond memories of Amoco's candles.


Other company community relations efforts are coordinated and/or funded by the Amoco Foundation, Inc. The Foundation contributed about $21 million to community and educational organizations in 33 countries in 1997. It specifically targets programs and organizations that help Amoco conduct business responsibly. Additionally, on behalf of company employees who volunteered for at least 50 hours in 1997, the Foundation awarded $726,000 in grants to more than 680 organizations across the globe. It also donated $2.2 million in matching grants to educational institutions. Another program, AmoCARES (Concerned Amoco Retirees Engaged in Service), contributed about $600,000 in volunteer services.




GLOBAL PRESENCE

Amoco has operations worldwide in both its petroleum and chemical product sectors. Petroleum exploration took place in about 20 different countries as of 1998. Still, more of Amoco's revenues were derived from sales in the United States, $28.2 billion of total 1997 revenues ($36.3 billion). Canadian revenues were $3.4 billion, and sales in Europe accounted for $2.2 billion. The remaining $2.5 billion came from Amoco's remaining foreign operations.




EMPLOYMENT

As one of its primary goals, Amoco tries to attract, develop, and retain people who match its corporate environment. According to the company, these people are "diverse, global, and must act consistently with our values. In this environment, each employee can use his or her full talent, energy and commitment to meet customer expectations and achieve business objectives." In 1997, 400 employees from around the world attended Amoco's third Diversity Conference. Attendance was almost double that of 1996.

To protect employees, Amoco approved a new operating policy focused on increased corporate commitment to safety. In 1997 the company also spent more than $45 million training employees at every level, including technical training, supervisory training, and a Renewal Series program for top management. In more rural areas around the world, Amoco sponsors medical visits to communities near the company's operations. These doctors provide general medical checkups, vitamins, and general information to area families.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Bibliography

"accord set to participate in kazak pipeline project." the wall street journal, 14 march 1997.

"amoco corporation." hoover's online. 28 june 1998. available at http://www.hoovers.com.

amoco corporation 1997 annual report. chicago: amoco corporation, 1998. available at http://www.amoco.com/about/ar97/home.html.

"amoco and shell oil form partnership." the new york times, 26 february 1997.

"amoco wyoming well begins natural gas production." reuters, 11 june 1998.

"big-oil earnings expected to plummet." tulsa world, 16 april 1998.

"chevron acquires amoco's lubricants business." chevron corporation, 11 june 1998.

manufacturing usa. detroit, mi: gale research, 1996.

moody's company data report. moody's investor service, 1996.

"painewebber ups oils to overweight." reuters, 12 june 1998.

wolf, gillian, updated by david e. salamie. "amoco corporation." international directory of company histories, vol. 14. detroit, mi: st. james press, 1996.


For an annual report:

on the internet at: http://www.amoco.com/about/ar97/home.htmlor write: annual report, attn: n. r. stevenson, amoco corp., 200 e. randolph dr., mail code 2304, chicago, il 60601-7125


For additional industry research:

investigate companies by their standard industrial classification codes, also known as sics. amoco's primary sics are:

1311 crude petroleum and natural gas

2821 plastics materials and resins, nec

2869 industrial organic chemicals, nec

2911 petroleum refining

4612 crude petroleum pipelines

4613 refined petroleum pipelines

5171 petroleum refining

5541 gasoline service stations

6719 holding companies

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Amoco Corporation." Company Profiles for Students. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Amoco Corporation." Company Profiles for Students. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/economics-magazines/amoco-corporation

"Amoco Corporation." Company Profiles for Students. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/economics-magazines/amoco-corporation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.