Esso began as the Anglo American Oil Company in 1888. It was the first foreign associate of John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust US company. Its head office was based at Bishopsgate, London and had a depot at Purfleet, Essex. The depot housed paraffin being shipped from New York to England for use in lamps.
In 1911, the US Supreme Court ordered the termination of the Standard Oil Trust, creating 33 spin-off companies, one of which, Standard Oil (New Jersey), acquired Anglo-American. The British affiliate stayed with the New Jersey company and, in 1934, took a phonetic version of the initials of Standard Oil (‘SO’, which finally became Esso) for some of its brand names.
Esso was finally adopted as the company name in 1951. As a result of the Esso trademark being restricted in the US, Standard Oil (New Jersey) chose Exxon as its name in 1972. Exxon is the parent company of the Esso, Mobil and ExxonMobil companies that operate in the UK and there are currently over 1000 Esso branded service stations operating here.
Esso’s environmental policy on their website states that its parent company ExxonMobil is ‘dedicated to running safe and environmentally responsible operations.’ They detail ways in which they are committed to protecting the environment by making their power generation facilities more efficient and reducing emissions in their UK power plant. They also claim to be the UKs leading supplier of Compressed Natural Gas – a diesel alternative for heavy goods vehicles and say they have led the industry in making cleaner fuels more widely available.
ExxonMobil is investing in research by providing $100M over ten years to Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP). This is the largest-ever investment in independent climate and energy research. This project is a major long-term research program designed to accelerate the development of commercially viable technologies that can meet global energy demand while dramatically lowering GHG emissions.
Despite these positive steps taken to protect the environment, Esso have been attacked by environmental group Greenpeace who claim that they are the ‘world’s no. 1 climate criminal’. Greenpeace condemns Esso for being the only major oil company that does not accept the problem of climate change and slates them for not spending any money on clean, renewable energy despite making higher profits than any other company worldwide in 2004. Although not directly investing in the development of renewable energy sources at the moment, the research project at Standford mentioned above is looking into potential future technologies, including renewables.
Esso is said to deny the fact that climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, stating that the science remains ‘inconclusive’, despite the fact most other fuel companies discuss the problem of climate change in their environmental policies and state what they are doing to try and resolve the problem. Esso refutes this allegation saying that it does take climate change extremely seriously and is taking action in several areas to address the risks it poses.
It seems that Esso actually opposes the switch to clean energy and it is suggested by Greenpeace that they played a part in the US ditching the Kyoto Protocol which was the only international agreement to deal with climate change. Esso’s response to this allegation is that, actually as early as 1997 the US Senate (under the Clinton Administration) voted overwhelmingly against supporting any agreement that did not include commitments from developing countries.
Greenpeace’s negative opinion of Esso’s actions lead them to back a campaign for people to stop buying Esso petrol, with a slogan ‘Esso chooses to wreck the climate. We can choose not to buy Esso’s products. Don’t buy Esso!’
In 2004 Esso introduced the brand ‘Energy’ with Energy Supreme (UL 97) specially formulated to help clean the engine and deliver more power. It is also said to help provide smoother acceleration, reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. Esso Energy unleaded 97 is the most environmentally-friendly fuel offered by Esso.