Daily Telegraph (UK): Empire that grew from a modest London shop: “The shake-up at Royal Dutch/Shell is the biggest upheaval in the history of the business, whose roots go back to 1833.” (ShellNews.net)
The shake-up at Royal Dutch/Shell is the biggest upheaval in the history of the business, whose roots go back to 1833.
In that year, a Victorian entrepreneur, Marcus Samuel, opened a small shop in London selling shells to natural history enthusiasts.
Shell soon became a thriving import-export business and by the end of the 19th century was run by his son, Marcus Junior. On a visit to the Caspian Sea, he spotted an opportunity to export oil for lamps to the Far East.
In 1892, he commissioned their first oil tanker, and delivered 4,000 tonnes of Russian kerosene to Singapore. At about the same time, Royal Dutch was formed in the Netherlands to develop oil fields in Asia.
Within four years, Shell and Royal Dutch were fierce rivals.
Over the next few years the two companies decided they would be better off working together and, in 1907, the Royal Dutch and Shell Transport & Trading decided to run their operations worldwide jointly.
During the 20th century, the group expanded with acquisitions in Europe, Africa and the Americas, fuelled by the global thirst for oil. In that time Royal Dutch/Shell transformed itself into the world's third-largest oil and gas company, with 119,000 staff operating in 145 countries.
With output and sales increasing dramatically, neither side felt that unifying the boards was a necessary step.
It was not until Shell's shock admission earlier this year that it had overestimated its "proven" oil and gas reserves by 23pc that the structure of the company was ever questioned.