Company Profile Series - This is the latest in a series of profiles of leading operators, including key international and national oil companies, around the globe. The focus is on the company's strategic direction, relationship to its government, major upstream activity, and significant technology challenges and applications.

Royal Dutch Shell stands among the very largest international oil and gas companies (IOCs) by any measure. The most recent Fortune Global 500 ranked Shell as the world’s largest energy and second largest publicly traded company by revenues. Figures and rankings fluctuate from year to year, but few corporate names, if any, are more widely known worldwide, and the company’s shell symbol—the pecten, as it is precisely called—is surely one of the most recognized logos around the globe.

Shell has reserves of 12.4 billion BOE, consisting of 4 billion bbl of crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) and 49.1 Tscf of natural gas. Shell in 2009 produced nearly 1.6 million B/D of oil and NGLs and 8.5 Bscf/D of natural gas, along with 80,000 B/D of synthetic crude and 19,000 B/D of bitumen. The company reported income of USD 12.7 billion in 2009 on revenue of 278.2 billion. Shell has 101,000 employees and conducts business operations in more than 90 countries.

Based in The Hague and incorporated in England and Wales, Shell has its roots in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Company Origins

“Shell” Transport and Trading was founded in 1897 by merchant Marcus Samuel in London, an outgrowth of a successful export-import business started in 1832 by his father, also named Marcus Samuel. During a trip to the Caucasus and Japan in 1890, the younger Samuel first recognized the potential of trading lamp oil from Baku, Russia, to the Far East and while by the Black Sea saw a very primitive bulk tanker. Vessels that could carry oil in bulk tank-age, he reasoned, would be far more efficient than the oil tankers of that day, which carried barrels that took up extra hold space, added weight, and were prone to leak.

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