From its beginnings as Pacific Coast Oil Company in the early days of California's oil boom in 1879, Chevron grew to become one of the world's largest integrated energy companies through expansion, mergers, and acquisitions over its 140+ year history.

This growth was punctuated by events like the 1911 breakup of Standard Oil, Chevron's 1984 acquisition of Gulf Oil Corporation, and its 2023 acquisition of Hess Corporation, continuing the company's pursuit of new oil reserves and energy leadership.

This expansive timeline chronicles the evolution of Chevron across critical eras that shaped the oil and gas industry as we know it today.

EARLY HISTORY (1879-1900)

Refinery in the 1800s
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1879: Pacific Oil Co.

Pacific Coast Oil Co. founded in California by George Loomis, Charles Felton, Lloyd Tevis, and associates.

It acquires the assets of Star Oil, which had discovered oil in 1876. This marks the beginning of the oil industry in California.

1885: Power Struggle

Co-founder Charles Felton becomes president of Pacific Coast Oil after a power struggle with George Loomis.

Felton provides strong leadership and oversees expansion of oil exploration and drilling in California.

1894: Gordon Blanding

After 9 years as president, Charles Felton steps down for unknown reasons. Gordon Blanding takes over as president.

Not much is known about Blanding's tenure.

1896: Return of Charles Felton

Charles Felton returns as president.

He leads the company for the next 4 years, continuing to grow Pacific Coast Oil's operations.

1900: John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, which had already monopolized much of the oil industry in the eastern US, acquires Pacific Coast Oil for $761,000.

This gives Standard control of California's oil industry as well. Pacific Coast Oil had been one of California's largest and most successful early oil ventures.


Oil Refinery in Los Angeles
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1906: Standard Oil Co. of California

After being acquired by Standard Oil in 1900, the company adopts the name Standard Oil Co. of California (Socal) to reflect its regional focus while retaining association with the Standard Oil parent.

1911: Monopoly Breakup

The U.S. Supreme Court orders the breakup of Standard Oil into 34 independent companies.

Standard Oil Co. of California becomes one of these companies, no longer owned by Standard but keeping its affiliation in the name.

1926: Name Change Again

The company changes its name to Standard Oil Co. (California), making its regional California association more explicit by putting the state name in parentheses.

This comes after a new federal law restricting use of the Standard name outside a company's original geographic area.

1937: William H. Berg

Longtime executive William H. Berg becomes president of the company.

He continues expanding oil exploration and production in California and the Western states.

1940: WWII & the Future

William Berg steps down and Vice President Harry D. Collier takes over as company president. Collier provides decisive leadership guiding the company through WWII and positioning it for further growth.

He begins serving concurrently as board chairman in 1945.


Gulf oil extraction
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1950: International Expansion

After 10 years as president, Harry Collier steps down.

R. Gwin Follis is promoted from within the company to become president.

He spearheads major expansion of exploration, production, shipping and refining, both within the U.S. and internationally.

1966: Oil Supertankers

Follis retires after 16 years leading the company.

Director and VP Otto N. Miller selected as president. Miller continues aggressive global growth, particularly in crude oil supertankers which help meet growing energy needs.

1984: Chevron Corporation

In a $13.2 billion merger, Standard Oil of California (Socal) acquires the Gulf Oil Corporation. This is the largest merger in corporate history at that time.

To reflect the new scope, Socal changes its name to Chevron Corporation.

1989: Environmental Future Focus

After serving over 22 years as president, Otto Miller retires.

Kenneth T. Derr is promoted from VP to president & CEO.

He leads Chevron through the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, emphasizing environmental responsibility.


Texaco oil refinery
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2000: David J. O’Reilly

After 10 years leading Chevron, Kenneth Derr retires as CEO. David J. O'Reilly is appointed the new CEO.

He oversees some of Chevron's largest acquisitions.

2001: Texaco Acquisition

Chevron acquires Texaco in a $45 billion merger deal. This forms the second-largest U.S. oil company and continues Chevron’s strategy of expansion by acquisition.

The companies had already been closely aligned for nearly 100 years as offshoots of Standard Oil.

2005: Unocal Corporation Acquisition

Chevron expands further by acquiring Unocal Corporation for $18 billion.

This adds substantially to Chevron’s oil and gas reserves and makes it a leader in geothermal energy.

2009: John S. Watson

After nearly 10 years as CEO capped by major mergers, David O’Reilly retires.

John S. Watson takes over as chairman and CEO.

He focuses on major capital projects and driving efficiencies.

2018: Refocus on Deepwater Drilling & Shale

Watson retires as planned after 9 years as CEO.

Michael K. Wirth takes over, targeting cost efficiencies amid lower oil prices, while pushing Chevron’s strength in deepwater drilling and shale.


Chevron oil tanker
© History Oasis

2020: COVID-19 & Layoffs

Due to plummeting oil demand during COVID-19 lockdowns, Chevron announces up to 15% global job cuts, including layoffs and severance packages affecting around 6,000 employees.

2020: ExxonMobil

As oil prices crater, Chevron and ExxonMobil discuss a possible merger-of-equals.

But talks end after a few weeks without agreement on structural details of combining the oil giants.

2021: Vaccine Mandates

Chevron imposes COVID-19 vaccination requirements with exceptions for medical or religious reasons.

Mandates apply to expats, offshore oil platform staff, and ship crews to avoid outbreaks.

2022: Myanmar & Kazakhstan

Chevron ceases operations in Myanmar and condemns the violent human rights abuses amid the military coup.

Chevron also temporarily reduces output in Kazakhstan due to violent nationwide protests triggered by fuel price hikes.

2023: Renewable Energy Expansion

Chevron acquires majority stake in an advanced hydrogen storage facility in Utah.

This positions it as an industry leader in renewable hydrogen vital for sustainable energy.

2023: Hess Corporation

In one of the largest energy sector mergers, Chevron announces acquisition of Hess Corporation for $53 billion in stock.

The deal bolsters Chevron’s assets in shale oil drilling and deepwater exploration.