In 1833 Marcus Samuel opened a small shop in London, selling sea shells to Victorian natural history enthusiasts. It soon became a thriving import-export business.
On a visit to the Caspian Sea coast, Marcuss son recognised a huge opportunity to export oil for lamps and cooking to the Far East. He commissioned the first special oil tanker in 1892, and subsequently delivered 4,000 tonnes of Russian kerosene to Singapore and Bangkok. Meanwhile, the company Royal Dutch had been formed in the Netherlands to develop oil fields in Asia. By 1896 it had its own tanker fleet to compete with the British. In time, it became obvious that the competing Dutch and British companies would do better working together. In 1907, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies was created to incorporate their operations worldwide.
Throughout the early twentieth century, the Group expanded with acquisitions in Europe, Africa and the Americas. These were exciting times for the oil industry, as the mass production of cars had opened up a vast new market.© 2006 Shell