ExxonMobil is one of the few modern companies that were already operating during the nineteenth century. The current Benelux-based organization has its roots in Antwerp, Rotterdam and the United States. In 1882, John D. Rockefeller, the well-known tycoon, founded the Standard Oil Company, the predecessor of the present ExxonMobil company. In those days, three commercial companies, Horstmann & Co. in Rotterdam, Fréderic Speth & Co. and Graf & Maquinay in Antwerp, imported lamp oil from Standard Oil, through an intermediary, the Stursberg Company. On 11 March 1891 these five companies set up a new corporation, the American Petroleum Company (APC), with offices both in Antwerp and in Rotterdam. The three oil-importing companies pooled their oil tankers, storage installations and offices. They had an initial capital of five million guilders and a workforce of twenty. One hundred shares were issued, of which the Standard Oil Company did not have the majority. ExxonMobil is the oldest hydrocarbons company still operating in the Benelux.
In 1911, The American Supreme Court ordered the division of the Rockefeller monopoly. This resulted in multiple Standard Oils. One of these, Standard Oil of New Jersey also called Jersey Standard, continued the APC activities in the Benelux. For 30 years, APC operated exclusively in the Benelux, but from 1902 they also sold oil products in Luxembourg. In 1920, the Dutch and the Belgian-Luxembourg subsidiaries of Jersey Standard went their separate ways. This continued until the mid-eighties of the twentieth century, when the Benelux organization was formed in Breda.
Decades later we would also see one of the other Standard Oil Company successors, Standard Oil of New York or SOCONY, return to the Benelux countries under the name Mobil Oil. The merger between Esso - Exxon in the United States - and Mobil to form the Exxon Mobil Corporation in December 1999 thus reunited two major heirs to the historic Rockefeller oil empire.