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Pennzoil Company

Pennzoil Company

▪ American company
also called  (1889–63) South Penn Oil Co., or (1968–72) Pennzoil United, Inc.,  

      American petrochemical corporation that was founded in Pennsylvania in 1889 as a producing unit of the Standard Oil Trust and—after several structural changes, mergers, and acquisitions over the years—underwent reincorporation in 1968. Headquarters are in Houston, Texas, U.S.

      The South Penn Oil Co., founded on May 27, 1889, became an independent company in 1911 when the Standard Oil Trust was dissolved. In a parallel development, a complex of mergers of independent oil producers and distributors (some dating to the 1870s) eventuated in 1924 in the merger of four companies under the name The Pennzoil Company. (The trademark “Pennzoil” had been registered in 1916 by two of the companies in alliance.) In 1925 South Penn Oil Co. acquired a controlling interest in Pennzoil, and operations became nationwide, from New York to California. More acquisitions followed over the years; and in 1963 two corporations—Zapata Petroleum and Stetco Petroleum—merged with South Penn Oil to form a new Pennzoil Company, which by 1965 had become a fully integrated company producing and marketing oil and gas products internationally. After acquiring a controlling interest in United Gas Corp. in 1965, Pennzoil was consolidated with United Gas in 1968 to form Pennzoil United, Inc., which was renamed Pennzoil Company in 1972.

      Pennzoil Company was part of a famous lawsuit in 1984–85. On Jan. 4, 1984, the J. Paul Getty interests agreed to merge Getty Oil Company with Pennzoil but two days later reneged with an announcement of another agreement, selling Getty Oil to Texaco Inc (Texaco Inc.). Pennzoil's subsequent lawsuit, which was pursued through state and federal courts, ultimately resulted in a jury decision (Nov. 19, 1985) ruling that Texaco had knowingly interfered with Pennzoil's binding agreement with the Getty interests. Pennzoil was awarded $7.53 billion in actual damages and $3 billion in punitive damages; Texaco ultimately paid $3 billion in cash in a final settlement on April 7, 1988.

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Universalium. 2010.

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