The global oil and gas industry is in the midst of one of the severest downturns in 30 years, as the perfect storm of overproduction and geopolitical tensions have seen oil prices plunge.
However, the fact remains that the industry has produced some of the largest companies in known history.
Our list of the top 10 oil and gas companies in the world by revenue
10. OJSC Lukoil
Revenue (2014): $144.17 billion
Country of Origin: Russia
Lukoil was formed when three Russian state-run west Siberian companies, Langepasneftegaz, Urayneftegaz, and Kogalymneftegaz, merged in 1991. Prior to Lukoil’s formation, the three companies performed exploration, refining, and distribution seperately. However, President Vagit Alekperov believed the only way for the post-Soviet Russian firms to succeed against their Western competitors would be to copy their business models, causing him to bring the three branches together.
Today, Lukoil is one of a few large private oil companies based in Russia. In terms of proven oil and gas reserves, it is second only to ExxonMobil and controls 1.3% of the global reserves.
9. Chevron Corporation
Revenue (2014): $211.97 billion
Country of Origin: USA
Chevron’s history dates back 1879 when it was founded as the Pacific Coast Oil Company. Although Standard Oil bought out the company in 1900, the breakup of Standard Oil saw it reborn as Standard Oil Co. of California. It secured a 50-year concession with Saudi Aramco. In 1984, the company merged with Gulf Oil in what was the largest merger in history at that time, and Chevron Corporation was born.
During the mid-1940s to the 1970s, Chevron was one of the Seven Sisters, a collection of seven global oil companies that completely dominated the global petroleum industry. Today, Chevron has developed interests in alternative energy sources, and it claims to be the world’s largest producer of geothermal energy.
8. Kuwait Petroleum Corp
Revenue (2014): $252 billion
Country of Origin: Kuwait
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation was founded on January 1980 when it united the four existing oil and gas companies of Kuwait, effectively bringing them under government control. This reversed a nearly 50 year run of very favorable prices for British corporations BP and Gulf.
Today, KPC is the national oil company of a country that was the world’s 10th largest petroleum and other liquids producer in 2013. The company maintains a unique characteristic in that since its formation, it has never acquired any competing companies, making it the only top oil producer to have never grown through acquisition.
7. Total S.A.
Revenue (2014): $236.1 billion
Country of Origin: France
Total S.A. was formed shortly after World War I when the French Prime Minister refused a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell and created the country’s own firm. It was known at the time as Compagnie Française des Pétroles until 1985 when it was renamed Tota-CFP, and then Total in 1991. At its inception, the company benefitted from a 25% share of the Turkish Petroleum Company that France received from Germany as reparations for WWI.
Total has ventured into alternate energy beginning with its foray into solar in 1975, followed by nuclear energy in 2011. At the end of 2013, Total had a total of 898 subsidiaries all over the world, and ranked #10 on Forbes Global 500.
Revenue (2014): $358.7 billion
Country of Origin: UK
BP can trace its history back to 1909, when it was known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Prominent businessman and BP founder William D’Arcy nearly went bankrupt in his search for oil in Persia. But soon he struck gold when British geologists discovered a large oil reserve in 1908. Upon the discovery, the Shah of Iran agreed to give D’Arcy the oil rights to most of the country in exchange for 16% of the oil company’s annual profits. The consequences of this deal would haunt the Iranians up until the late 20th century.
BP manages operations in 30 countries around the world, with its U.S. operations alone making up a third of its revenue. The company’s UK branch controls more than 40 offshore oil and gas fields, four onshore terminals, and a pipeline network that transfers 50% of the gas and oil produced in the UK. BP ranked at #7 on the Forbes Global 500 in 2001 and peaked at #2 in 2004 and 2005.
5. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco)
Revenue (2014): $378 billion
Country of Origin: Saudi Arabia
More commonly known as Saudi Aramco, the company was originally a concession created between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California. In its early stages, rival oil firms such as Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, and SoCal all owned stakes in the company. By 1973, the Saudi Arabian government began its acquisition of the company by purchasing a 25% stake, followed by a full takeover in 1980.
Saudi Aramco is considered to be the worlds most valuable company. It has control of the world’s largest crude oil reserve as well as being the biggest producer. Today, it is estimated to be worth anywhere between an astronomical $1.25 and $7 trillion. The company manages over 100 oil and gas fields, including the world’s largest onshore and offshore oil fields.
Revenue (2014): $411.94 billion
Country of Origin: USA
ExxonMobil is the result of a merger of two companies that were the remnants of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. The two New Jersey and New York companies, known later as Exxon and Mobil respectively, were the giants in their own right. The resulting merger of the two created the largest company in US corporate history.
ExxonMobil comprises of 3 brands, Exxon, Mobil, and Esso, with each brand servicing different countries throughout the world. ExxonMobil is considered the largest of the giants known as Big Oil, a group of seven or eight of the worlds largest oil and gas companies.
3. Royal Dutch Shell
Revenue (2014): $421.1 billion
Country of Origin: UK/Netherlands
The company that we know today as Royal Dutch Shell was founded in the 19th century. At the time, the company was known simply as Shell, through which Londoner Marcus Samuel imported shells from the East. Shell was later passed on to brothers Marcus Jr. and Sam Samuel. Marcu Jr. developed an interest in the oil exporting business. The company was renamed Shell Transport and Trading Company in 1897 before merging with Royal Dutch Petroleum to become Royal Dutch Shell Group in 1907.
Within 20 years, Royal Dutch Shell became the leading oil company in the world. The company restructured itself in 2005 when it dissolved the original partnership of Shell Transport and Royal Dutch Petroleum to officially unify the two as Royal Dutch Shell plc. The company has ranked in the Top 10 of the Forbes Global 500 list for most the last 20 years.
2. China National Petroleum Corp. (Petrochina)
Revenue (2014): $432 billion
Country of Origin: China
CNPC is the government-owned parent company of publicly listed PetroChina, and is the largest integrated energy company in China. The company can trace its beginnings to the communist revolution. It was developed as the petrol arm of the newly created ‘Fuel Industry Ministry’.
Today, the company operates in four segments: Exploration and Production, Refining and Chemicals, Marketing and Natural Gas and pipeline. It is China’s biggest oil producer and Petrochina is known as the most profitable company in Asia.
Revenue (2014): $437.6 billion
Country of Origin: China
Sinopec Limited, also referred to as China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation Limited, is a major subsidiary of the China Petrochemical Corporation, also known as Sinopec Group. The company is recognized as the largest annual oil refiner in all of Asia, despite only producing a quarter of the crude oil output of its rival PetroChina.
In just 15 years, Sinopec has partnered with or acquired a large number of oil and gas companies all over the world, consolidating its rise to become the largest oil and gas company as it provides fuel for a rapidly growing Chinese economy. In 2009, Sinopec was ranked #9 on the Fortune Global 500 list, the first ever Chinese corporation to be included in the Top 10. It has risen higher on the list every year since, rising to #2 in 2015.