British Petroleum Names
This page last updated on January 20, 2013.
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The following comes from the February 1989 issue of BP America Journal, the BP employee's magazine, Volume 3, Number 1.
When was BP not British Petroleum?
That question has several answers because the name has evolved through the years, just as the company has.
In 1909 the company started as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) and later became known as Anglo-Iranian. The company began for the purpose of develop ing William Knox D'Arcy's oil concession in Persia.
In 1914, the British government took a substantial stake in the company. Its main business, at that time, was to supply fuel oil to the Royal Navy and oil products to allied armies in World War I.
APOC acquired The British Petroleum Union in 1917 to gain a foothold in the retail market.
Three years later, A.R. Saunders won a staff competition to design the first logo using the letters BP. His design introduced the sharply chiselled serifs.
In Britain the letters began appearing on signs that also incorporated the Union Jack. In Germany. the B.P. stood for Benzin and Petroleum.
In 1922. the company's French subsidiary became the first to register rights to the BP letters.
France also came up with the first -- "shield", although at the time (1923) it appeared on tulip-shaped glass globes fitted to roadside pumps.
By 1927 the company painted its gas pumps green.
The green-and-yellow shield became official in 1930.
In 1946, the company introduced a new corporate identinr. It featured the greenand-yellow shield, but laid down stricter rules about its usage.
It wasn't until 1954 that the parent company officially changed its name to The British Petroleum Company.
In 1960 the logo was re-designed to the look it carried until now.
New names for new image
Unity. In a word, that's the goal of BP's worldwide image campaign. To create a sense of unity the names of the business groups are changing.
Gone are Sohio Oil, Standard Alaska Production Company (SAPC) and Standard Oil Production Company (SOPC). Other business names will also change.
The new business names take effect immediately.
The name Sohio, which the Standard Oil Company first used in 1928, will disappear as the Sohio Oil Company becomes BP Oil. SOPC and SAPC will become BP Exploration.
BP Chemicals America (SPCA) just drops the America, becoming BP Chemicals. Likewise, its parent, BP Chemicals International (BPCI) drops the International to become BP Chemicals.
So how will the companies be told apart?
Titles is one way, explains Ruthann Kidd, Corporate Public Affairs, Cleveland, who is helping coordinate BP America's new image program. "Locations will still be listed on business cards, letterheads or when referring to a person in a company publication," she says. "So, there shouldn't be too much confusion."
Company names specifying individual countries will remain the same -- BP America and BP Australia, for example.
Switching business names isn't just a matter of changing a few business cards and some letterheads. At BP Exploration in Alaska, for example, the new name and logo must be changed on 500 well-houses, 300 vehicles, 400 pieces of equipment and more than 800 hardhats.
The Houston division is going through a similar process.
"We were anticipating a name change, so as far as stationery goes, we've been running on empty," says Paul Laird who is a Public Affairs staff associate with BP Exploration in Anchorage.
To debut the name change and identity program throughout Alaska and in Houston, John Browne, chief executive officer, USA, BP Exploration, has planned press conferences and employee town hall meetings.
James H. Ross, BP America president and CEO, will discuss the name change during visits to the newly acquired Ferndale Refinery and other West Coast locations in mid-February. In March, Ross will be at the Lima (Ohio) refinery and chemical plants. He will also take part in other meetings with community leaders in upcoming weeks.
For Chemicals, "It's more a matter of housekeeping for us because we made the name change from Standard Oil Chemicals to BP Chemicals America last year," says Paul Basham, vice president, Planning & Control, Cleveland. New signs will go up at the plants in Lima and Green Lake, Texas.
The Carborundum Company, Niagara Falls, New York, and HITCO, Gardena, Calif, will maintain their own names, although they are also part of BP Chemicals.
Research Center Warrensville (Ohio) will retain its name, although it is now part of BP Research. The word "International" has been dropped from its title.
BP Coal Inc. will remain for the international coal business. However, BP Coal America Inc. will be replaced by BP Coal (USA) Inc.
Purina Mills, part of BP Nutrition, will maintain its name and its red and white checkerboard.