BP Plc (BP), commonly known as British Petroleum, is one of the world’s largest integrated oil and gas companies. The company is involved in almost every step of the oil and natural gas supply chain, from exploration to the sale and marketing of energy products. BP also engages in producing renewable energy through the wind farms that it owns and also produces a variety of petrochemical products.

Most consumers know BP by its fuel stations and retail concepts. But you may not know that it owns a series of companies and brand names that fall under its unique portfolio. This article outlines a brief history of the company itself and looks at its top five companies.

Key Takeaways

  • BP is a major integrated oil and gas company, which also owns a series of brand names related to its gas station business.
  • Castrol manufactures industrial and automotive lubricants for the international market.
  • Aral AG is the owner of Aral-branded fuel stations in Germany and Luxembourg.
  • BP America owns most of ARCO's assets as well as convenience store chain ampm.
  • BP purchased Amoco, the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the United States.
  • Wild Bean Cafe operates in conjunction with gas stations in certain foreign countries.

History of BP

BP's history dates back to the early 1900s. The company, headquartered in London, was founded by William D'Arcy in 1909, a year after oil was discovered in the Middle East. BP has a footprint in 70 countries around the world and produced 772,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day in the United States.

The company is probably best known for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which was caused by an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It was the largest oil spill in U.S. history, leaking 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and killed 11 people. The incident cost the company billions of dollars.

BP trades on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (FRA), and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It is also one of the components of the FTSE 100 Index. Many investors favor BP's stock because of the dividend it pays. In the second quarter, BP paid 0.3150 cents per American depositary share (ADS) to investors.

Now let's take a look at the biggest companies that fall under BP's umbrella.

Castrol

Castrol is a U.K.-based producer of industrial and automotive lubricants for a global market. The company was founded by Charles Wakefield in London in 1899. It was acquired by BP in 2002. Castrol lubricants are sold in automotive stores and gas stations in over 150 countries.

It makes sense for BP to sell its own lubricants at its gas stations. Many drivers check and top-off their oil when they fill up with gasoline. By selling its own lubricants at its gas stations, BP makes even more money from its customers.

Aral

Aral is a well-known brand of fuel stations in Germany and Luxembourg owned by Aral AG, which is a BP-owned company. There are approximately 2,500 Aral stations in Germany, making it the largest gas station chain in the country with a 24% market share. Aral stations offer fuel and diesel to customers and may also offer natural gas and propane.

Many Aral stations also have a car wash and retail store. The retail stores provide convenience items and food through Aral's food store, Petit Bistro. There are 1,200 Petit Bistros, which offer snacks, meals, and beverages, including fresh, sustainably harvested coffee. These bistros are so prevalent and popular that Aral is Germany's third-largest fast-food retailer after McDonald's and Burger King.

ARCO and ampm

In 2000, BP America purchased most of ARCO’s assets, and ARCO was integrated under the BP name. Many gas stations, even those owned by BP, are still branded as ARCO. BP also took ownership of the ampm convenience store chain—whose first location opened in 1978—through this purchase.

These stores are now found associated with both ARCO- and BP-branded gas stations and offer grab-n-go sandwiches and snacks among other items. Select stores even sell beer (where legally available). There are about 950 ampm stores in America across California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona.

18,700

The rough number of gas stations BP owns worldwide.

AMOCO

BP reintroduced Amoco, the BP brand for the U.S. fuel retail sector, in 2017. Originally called Standard Oil of Indiana, Amoco was the largest natural gas producer in North America by 1912.

Amoco and BP merged in 1998, making BP Amoco the largest producer of both oil and natural gas in the United States. That merged company was renamed BP in 2001.

Wild Bean Cafe

Hungry motorists who stop to refuel their cars can also refuel themselves with to-go foods and freshly ground coffee at Wild Bean Cafes. These cafes are commonly found in BP Connect stations in Europe, Australia, South Africa, China, and Russia. Wild Bean Cafe stores have been in existence since 2001.

Other Subsidiaries

Although BP is not the outright owner, it is the largest shareholder of Rosneft Oil Company (OJSCY), after the Russian government. Rosneft serves as the leader of Russia’s petroleum industry and remains the world’s largest publicly-traded petroleum company. BP and Rosneft have a joint-venture agreement to develop prospective resources in East and West Siberia.

The Bottom Line

All of the companies owned by BP help the company increase its revenues from the sale of its main product. This is, obviously, fuel. But the company also relies on its portfolio of brand names to help boost its bottom line. For instance, BP gas station customers can also purchase Castrol lubricants, while ampm, Wildbean Cafe, and Petit Bistros sell food and beverages to motorists visiting BP-branded gas stations including Aral.