The Royal Dutch Shell Group is unique among the world’s oil companies.



History of the Royal Dutch Shell Group 

The Royal Dutch Shell Group is unique among the world’s oil companies. It was formed from the 1907 merger of the assets and operations of the Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and the British-based Shell Transport and Trading Company. However, the two parents remained legally separate corporations. It is the world’s biggest and oldest joint venture. Both parent companies trace their origins to the Far East in the 1890s.

The expansion of both companies was supported by the growing demand for oil resulting from the introduction of the automobile and oil-fueled ships and in 1907 the business interests of the two companies were combined into a single group, with Royal Dutch owning a 60% share and Shell Transport and Trading a 40% share (a ratio that has remained constant to this day). 

The post-war period began with rebuilding the war-devastated refineries and tanker fleet, and continued with the development of new oilfields in Venezuela, Iraq, the Sahara, Canada, Colombia, Nigeria, Gabon, Brunei, and Oman. In 1959, a joint Shell/Exxon venture discovered one of the world’s largest natural gas fields at Groningen in the Netherlands. This was followed by a series of major North Sea oil and gas finds between 1971 and 1976. During the 1970s, Shell, like the other petroleum companies, began diversifying outside of petroleum. The 1980s saw a reversal of Shell’s diversification strategy, with several divestments of “non-core businesses” and a concentration on oil and gas. 

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