Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Company Office.

Recently some interesting items have popped up due to the posting of 1916 newspaper front pages.  Here's one:
Lex Anteinternet: The Casper Weekly Tribune for December 29, 1916: ...:

The news about the Ohio Oil Company, at one time part of the Standard family but a stand alone entity after Standard was busted up in 1911, was not small news.  Ohio Oil was a major player in the Natrona County oilfields at the time and would be for decades.  It would contribute a major office building to Casper in later years which is still in use. At one time it was the largest oil company in the United States.  In the 1960s it changed its name to Marathon and in the 1980s moved its headquarters from Casper to Cody Wyoming.  At some point it began to have a major presence in the Houston area and in recent years it sold its Wyoming assets, including the Cody headquarters, and it now no
longer has a presence of the same type in the state.
We've touched on this before, but seeing the name of the Ohio Oil Company featured so prominently on the front page really reminds of the extent to which the oil industry has become concentrated in large cities over the past few decades.

The Ohio Oil Company was part of Standard Oil.  It had major assets in Wyoming so it came to be headquartered in Casper and remained here all the way into the 1980s, by which time it was Marathon.  It is an eccentric example in that it moved its headquarters to Cody Wyoming at that time where it had major assets.  Now, however, its in Houston, which is the hub of the oil industry.

Today oil companies tend to have their headquarters in places where they've always been.  Houston, Dallas, Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  Not Casper, except for regional companies. This makes sense and I'm offering no criticism whatsoever.  Indeed, it's odd to think now, that a major company like the Ohio Oil Company once had its headquarters here.

This has been driven by the market, but it's also been driven by the advance of technology and transportation.  In earlier eras, especially early on, getting to the fields from the company office could be pretty difficult. Not now, however, or at least to the same extent.  Today flying from Houston or Oklahoma City to Casper, and then out to nearby fields, is easily accomplished within a single day. This would not have been true, to say the least, in 1916.  The net effect is that a lot of headquarters have moved, some to Denver, but some all the way to Texas and Oklahoma.

That may seem like a minor item, but if you are seeking employment it isn't.  When my mother came to Wyoming from Alberta in the late 1950s she found a job right away with the Pan American Petroleum Company. I don't know that Pan American Petroleum was headquartered here but they had a big building here. They were incorporated in 1916, so they fit well into the story of the year we've been looking at fairly intensively, and I've discussed them a bit here before. They had production all over North America, including Mexico (so they likely were impacted by what's about to occur south of the border, the Mexican nationalization of oil).  Their large office building is still here, and was recently remodeled, but of course they are not.  They don't exist at all, as they were merged with Amoco in 1954 which was purchased by British Petroleum in 1998.

BP had a late presence here as well, thanks to buying out Amoco. That gave them the Standard Oil Refinery which is no longer as well.

We often think of the oil industry around here.  But when we think of it, we don't think much of how at one time the companies had substantial office presence here.  That's been quite a long term change driven, I suspect, by improvements in transportation and technology.  If that's correct its somewhat ironic in that what some claim, that technology and transportation are allowing for greater decentralization are not providing to be correct, at least in so far as that pertains to the energy industry, and by my observation, many others.

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