Sourcing the Future
Chevron ... The First 100 Years in the South Bay
Photographed by Bo Bridges
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To appreciate Chevron’s role in the evolution of energy technology, it is useful to have a glimpse of their past. Their history informs and plays a vital role in the history of California—and the potential of its future. It is a history that chronicles a uniquely American entrepreneurship and vision at the core of their commerce.
Their earliest predecessor, Pacific Coast Oil Company, set up shop in 1879 in San Francisco. The Northern California landscape was fruitful in resources, and the company expanded steadily over a short period of time. With success at their Point Alameda refinery, they were able to purchase more land, lay more pipeline and introduce California’s first steel tanker in 1895, the George Loomis, which began shipping up to 6,500 barrels of crude from San Francisco to Ventura.
With this success came more expansion, and the company began to widen the scope of their products to include the sale of gasoline and lubricants. In 1900, Pacific Coast Oil Company was acquired by Iowa Standard but retained its original name, and in 1906, the two consolidated and became Standard Oil Co.
In 1911, the company completed construction on the El Segundo plant. By that time, Standard Oil Co. was positioned for further success, which it achieved as a result of embracing the need for scientific expertise. With an impressive array of products, extensive pipelines and marine fleets at the ready, their leadership took the vital step of building a strong team of scientists to manage the growing demand for resources. With top geologists on hand, they were able to utilize new reserves and become a leader in conserving resources.
They expanded their fleet of tankers and, despite competition, continued to broaden their market, introducing Red Crown aviation fuel in 1918. They also established a vital component of the company by creating a line of petrochemicals that were used in both World War I and World War II. A boom in export sales during wartime resulted in the beginning of their international expansion.
The post-war years allowed the company to continue to focus on discovering new territories and sources of energy and truly secure their legacy as a global entity. These years were marked by prodigious growth, filled with mergers and acquisitions (including Gulf, Getty and Texaco), and the navigating of international politics as the company acquired territories, including Saudi Arabia, Central America, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Canada.