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Atlantic Petroleum was an oil company in the Eastern United States headquartered in Philadelphia, and a direct descendant of the Standard Oil Trust. It was also one of the companies that merged with Richfield Oil to form ARCO, now part of BP. After an unsuccessful spinoff from ARCO, Atlantic would be acquired by Sunoco in 1988.

Contents

History

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Early Years & Standard Oil

Atlantic was founded as the Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company in 1866 in the then-fledgling oil business. In 1874, the company, now known as Atlantic Refining, was purchased by John D. Rockefeller and integrated as part of Standard Oil. The acquisition gave Rockefeller a major presence on the East Coast in his growing empire.

In 1886, after acquiring many other oil companies, the Standard Oil Trust organized territories for their companies. Atlantic's territory covered the entire state of Delaware, the southern half of New Jersey, and the southeasternmost corner of Pennsylvania, essentially giving Atlantic the entire Philadelphia area.

Due to antitrust issues that would eventually lead to the demise of the Trust in 1911, Atlantic absorbed fellow Standards Acme Oil of Pennsylvania and the original, Pittsburgh-based Standard Oil in 1892.

Post-Standard Years

As a result of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the Standard Oil Trust was broken up, and Atlantic was one of 11 companies to acquire rights to the Standard name. (In all, 35 companies were formed from the breakup, the most notable ones without rights to the Standard name being the Ohio Oil Company, which became Marathon and South Penn Oil Company, which though various mergers and acquisitions became Pennzoil.) Atlantic's rights were in the entire states of Pennsylvania and Delaware, as it had given up the southern half of New Jersey to Jersey Standard (later Exxon, now ExxonMobil).

However, like fellow baby Standard Conoco (now ConocoPhillips), Atlantic found more marketing power in its own name than the Standard name (a rarity at the time), and declined the option to use the name. The rights to the Standard name in Pennsylvania would be acquired by a newly-formed Standard Oil of Pennsylvania, which would be acquired by Exxon in the late 1930's. ExxonMobil still owns the rights to the Standard name in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Over the years, Atlantic would expand up across the East Coast of the U.S., mainly through acquisitions.

The ARCO Years

Trying to establish a national presence, Atlantic merged with West Coast oil company Richfield Oil in 1966. The combined company became known as the Atlantic Richfield Company, better known by its acronym as ARCO.

While the merger with Richfield and eventual rebranding of the stations to ARCO was successful, it did essentially make the company a bi-coastal chain, having no presence from east of the Rocky Mountains to west of the Appalachian Mountains (save for Western Pennsylvania, since Atlantic was prominent in that state). This was remedied with the purchase of Sinclair Oil in 1969. This purchase did not go as well, and the Eastern assets of Sinclair as well as Atlantic's old assets in the Southeast were sold to BP in 1971. Sinclair also struggled to be rebranded as ARCO.

Revival and Demise

After Sinclair was spun off in the mid-1970s, ARCO found success on the West Coast (in Richfield's old territory) as a low-cost gasoline provider. To allow the company to concentrate on this market, ARCO sold off its Northeastern interests in 1985. Some were acquired by Shell, notably in New Jersey, but the larger portion went to a new company controlled by Dutch banker and oil trader John Deuss. The new company revived the Atlantic name and launched its own convenience store brand, A-Plus.

The new Atlantic struggled financially, and in 1988 was purchased by fellow Philadelphia oil company Sunoco.

Over the next few years, Atlantic was marketed separately from Sunoco as a lower-cost brand, and even had a new logo come into use, but by the mid-1990s Atlantic stations were rebranded as Sunoco. The last known Atlantic station was in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, which was rebranded as Sunoco in 1996. It is currently a company-owned Sunoco station with Atlantic's old convenience store, A-Plus.

Legacy

Many remnants of Atlantic still show with both Sunoco and ARCO (which in 2000 was acquired by BP and is now officially known as BP West Coast Products, but still uses the ARCO name). Besides the obvious reference with ARCO, Sunoco retained the A-Plus convenience store chain since Sunoco didn't have a chain of its own. Because of Sunoco's sponsorship as the "Official Fuel of NASCAR", A-Plus is currently "The Official Pit Stop of NASCAR".

In addition, Sunoco still owns the former Atlantic refinery in Philadelphia, and later consolidated it with the former Gulf Oil refinery (which Sunoco had acquired from Chevron) that was adjacent to the old Atlantic refinery.

See also

References

Whatever Happened to Standard Oil?


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