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Oil companies under the lamplight: Shell

The Shell oil company is part of Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil firms.

It is made up of a group of petrochemical and oil businesses, which between them employ about 92,000 people located in over 70 different countries.

Shell is based in the United States with a head office in Houston, Texas. As well as producing fuel, lubricants, oil and petrochemicals, the company is also involved in exploration, oil extraction and refining, research and technology.

The story of Shell began in London in 1883, when Marcus Samuel, an antiques dealer, decided to expand his business by selling shells from the Far East. He discovered that there was a great demand for them, so he began to import them, and the business soon developed into one that carried out both importing and exporting.

When Samuel’s sons took over the company they exported British tools, textiles and machinery to the Far East and Japan, importing goods including silk, rice and china. An interest in the Russian oil exporting business led to the brothers commissioning steam ships to transport the viscous liquid, with this resulting in them setting up the Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1897.

Afterwards, they built a refinery and an oil pipeline and, by the 20th century, Marcus Samuel junior had become a plutocrat who was later knighted and became London’s mayor. In an effort to free his company from its reliance on Russian oil, Samuel joined forces with Royal Dutch Petroleum, discovering new oil sources in places such as Texas.

The companies merged in 1907 to form the Royal Dutch Shell Group, which grew rapidly throughout the world. All through its history, Shell has kept the image of a shell as its logo, changing in 1904 from a mussel to today’s scallop shell. It is probably one of the best-known corporate logos in the world.

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