BP p.l.c. is the holding company of one of the world's largest petroleum and petrochemicals groups. Our main activities are exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing, supply and transportation; and manufacturing and marketing of petrochemicals. We have a growing activity in gas and power and in solar power generation. BP has well-established operations in Europe, North and South America, Australasia and Africa.
The birth of BP
BP's origins go back to May 1901, when a wealthy Englishman, William Knox D'Arcy, obtained a concession from the Shah of Persia to explore for and exploit the oil resources of the country, excluding the five northern provinces which bordered Russia. Having been granted the concession, D'Arcy employed an engineer, George Reynolds, to undertake the task of exploring for oil in Persia. Severe weather, difficult terrain, the absence of a developed infrastructure, the shortage of skilled local labour and the problems of dealing with neighbouring tribes in the absence of a strong central government -- all conspired to make Reynolds' pioneering task an exceptionally arduous one.
Years passed without oil being discovered in commercial quantities, despite Reynolds' persistence.
Meanwhile, the costs mounted, stretching D'Arcy's resources to the point where he sought outside financial assistance. This came in 1905 from the Burmah Oil Company, which provided new funds for his venture.
More exploration in Persia followed without success, until eventually, in May 1908, Reynolds and his helpers struck oil in commercial quantities at Masjid-i-Suleiman in southwest Persia. It was the first commercial oil discovery in the Middle East, signalling the emergence of that region as an oil producing area.
After the discovery had been made, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (as BP was first known) was formed in 1909 to develop the oilfield and work the concession. At the time...