Exxon U.S.A. traces its descent from the Humble Oil Company, which was chartered in Texas in February 1911 with a capital of $150,000 (raised to $300,000 in 1912). The company was reorganized in 1917 and incorporated on June 21 as the Humble Oil and Refining Company with a capitalization of $1 million based on 40,000 shares at $100 par value. The original company resulted from the collaboration of Ross S. Sterling and Walter William Fondren with Robert L. Blaffer and William Stamps Farish and others. In the new organization were merged the Paraffine Oil Company, Blaffer and Farish, Schulz Oil Company, Ardmore Oil Company, and Globe Refining Company.
In February 1919, Humble doubled the number of shares authorized and sold 50 percent of its stock to Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. This initiated Humble's long-term connection with the company that eventually absorbed it as Exxon Company, U.S.A. Standard Oil of New Jersey was identified as the particular target of antitrust enforcers in Texas in the early decades of the twentieth century, and the corporation found it much easier to do business in the state through Humble, its partially owned but autonomously directed affiliate. In 1948 Humble had issued a total of eighteen million shares with a total capitalization of $475 million; Standard Oil Company of New Jersey owned 72 percent of the stock.
In 1917 Humble had 217 wells and a daily crude oil production of about 9,000 barrels. The company's production was expanded steadily. It made large additions to its reserves in the 1930s and increased production during World War II in order to meet war needs. Humble became the largest domestic producer of crude oil during the war and continued in that position into the 1950s. In 1949 the company had a net production of 275,900 barrels daily of crude oil and 15,900 barrels daily of natural-gas liquids. At the end of 1949 the company was operating 9,928 wells.
Consolidation with Standard Oil of New Jersey
In the 1950s Standard Oil of New Jersey began to reconsider its relationship with Humble Oil. In spite of the fact that Standard owned almost 88 percent of Humble's stock in 1954, Humble continued to maintain its autonomy for the rest of the decade. In 1958 Standard increased its holdings to some 98 percent of Humble's stock, and the following year Humble and Standard Oil of New Jersey consolidated domestic operations. In September 1959 Humble received a new charter from the state of Delaware. By the end of the year Esso Standard and the Carter Oil Company, other affiliates of Standard of New Jersey, were incorporated into Humble, and in 1960 they were joined by other affiliates including Enjay Chemical, Pate Oil, Globe Fuel Products, and Oklahoma Oil. The restructuring allowed the new Humble company to reduce duplication and costs and to coordinate all of its domestic activities more effectively. The Humble workforce dropped by a quarter in the first five years after the merger, while its profits doubled.
Humble's restructuring allowed both companies to sell and market gasoline nationwide under the Esso, Enco and Humble brands. The Enco brand was introduced by Humble in 1960 at stations in Ohio but was soon blackballed after Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) protested that Enco (Humble's acronym for "ENergy COmpany") sounded and looked too much like Esso as it shared the same oval logo with blue border and red letters with the two middle letters the only difference. At that point, the stations in Ohio would be rebranded Humble until the name change to Exxon in 1972.
After the Enco brand was discontinued in Ohio, it was moved to other non-Esso states. The Humble brand was used at Texas stations for decades as those operations were under the direction of Jersey Standard affiliate, Humble Oil, and in the mid-to-late 1950s expanded to other Southwestern states including New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma. In 1961, Humble stations in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona were rebranded as Enco and the Enco brand appeared on gasoline and lubricant products at Humble stations in Texas that same year with service stations there changed to Enco in 1962. By that time, Jersey had expanded the Enco brand to stations in the Midwest and Northwest that had been operated by various subsidiaries such as Carter, Pate and Oklahoma among others.
In 1963, Humble was approached by Tidewater Oil Company, a major gasoline marketer along the eastern and western seaboards, to purchase the firm's refining and marketing operations on the west coast, a move that would have given Humble a large number of existing stations and a refinery in California, which was then the fastest-growing gasoline market. However, the U.S. Justice Department objected to Humble's plan to purchase Tidewater's west coast operations, which were later sold to Phillips Petroleum in 1966. Meanwhile, Humble gradually built up new and rebranded service stations in California and other western states under the Enco brand and purchased a large number of stations from Signal Oil Company in 1967, followed by the opening of a new refinery in Benicia, California in 1969.
In 1966, the Justice Department ordered Humble to "cease and desist" from using the Esso brand at stations in several Southeastern states following protests from Standard Oil of Kentucky (a Standard Oil of California subsidiary by that time and in the process of rebranding the Kyso stations as Chevron). By 1967, stations in each of those states were rebranded as Enco.
In the 1960s Humble had more than 21,000 square miles (54,000 km²) of land under lease in the United States. The company operated 24,000 producing wells in twenty-one states with a daily production of 600,000 barrels of crude oil. Humble-operated wells also produced 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily. Six Humble refineries and plants processed about 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily and produced from that volume a great variety of products.
Discontinuation of the Humble brand.
Despite the success of the "Put A Tiger In Your Tank" advertising campaign introduced by Humble in 1964 to promote its Enco/Esso Extra gasolines, the similar logotypes, use of the Humble name in all Esso/Enco ads and the uniformity in design and products of Humble stations nationwide, the company still had difficulties promoting itself as a nationwide gasoline marketer competing against truly national brands such as Texaco — then a 50-state marketer and the only company selling products under one brand name in each state. Humble officials realized by the late 1960s that the time had come to swallow its pride by developing a new brand name that could be used nationwide throughout the U.S. At first, consideration was given to simply rebranding all stations as "Enco" but that was shelved when it was learned that "Enco" is a Japanese abbreviation of "engine failure." (??????, enjinkoshou)
In order to create a unified brand, the company changed its corporate name from Jersey Standard to Exxon, rebranding all its U.S. stations under the latter title in the summer and fall of 1972 following the successful test marketing of the Exxon brand and logo in late 1971 and early 1972 at rebranded Enco/Esso stations in certain U.S. cities