Esso history

Esso Australia's origins go back to the Union Oil Company of California and the Atlantic Refining Company.

In late 1927, they decided to combine to enter the Australian and New Zealand markets.

The Atlantic Union Oil Company quickly demonstrated its determination to conquer this new market by beginning construction of four terminals - two in New Zealand, one at Balmain (NSW) and one at Spotswood (Victoria). The terminals were in operation six months after construction commenced.

In 1928, a "traffic-stopping" launch was planned to introduce Atlantic Union's first product - "Union Motor Spirit". Full page advertisements were splashed across newspapers. The company hired 50 trucks fitted them out with Atlantic Union pumps and signs and spent a whole day driving them in a long convoy through the streets of Sydney, clogging busy intersections and attracting considerable attention.

Union Motor Spirit received the best possible endorsement when pioneer Australian aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith used Atlantic products on all his famous flights. Kingsford-Smith helped to rapidly elevate the company from an unknown to a strong player in the highly competitive petroleum market.

In 1933, Atlantic Union Oil Company was taken over by Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) - later to become Exxon. Following this, the eastern hemisphere interests of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) were merged with those of Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (later Mobil), to create Standard-Vacuum Oil Company (Stanvac).

The Esso trademark was registered in Australia in 1937. While still marketing under the Atlantic Union brand, lubricants and other products featuring the Esso logo were introduced and the first metered pumps were installed.

During World War II, petrol rationing was introduced and Stanvac joined Pool Petroleum Pty Ltd, a venture uniting all oil companies in Australia to ensure petrol supplies were maintained during the war.

Throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s, the company continued to provide new products, advance technologies, expand business lines and establish new markets. Such growth was deemed by the U.S. Anti-Trust Board to render the company close to a monopoly and in 1962 Stanvac and its assets were divided between Atlantic Union Oil (which became Esso) and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (now Mobil). Following this Atlantic changed its name to Esso Standard Oil (Australia) Pty Ltd.

It was the creation of the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture with BHP to search for oil and gas in Bass Strait that set Esso along a path that would lead to new successes. Esso Exploration Australia discovered natural gas with the first well it drilled in Bass Strait in 1965 (the Barracouta field). Achieving such a feat in the first well in a new region defied all the odds in exploration. Success continued with the discovery of the Marlin field - the largest gas field in south eastern Australia - and then finally Australia's biggest oil field - Kingfish - was discovered in the next well.

Longford Gas Plant 1 and Crude Stabilisation Plant were constructed and in 1969 the first gas from Barracouta left Longford via pipeline to Melbourne and the supply of natural gas to Victorian consumers began.


Kingfish A, Kingfish B, Marlin and Halibut platforms were all installed in the early 1970s and a further seven platforms were installed in Bass Strait between 1978 and 1984.

In 1970, the Long Island Point Fractionation plant and Crude Oil Tank Farm was commissioned. Long Island Point is connected to Longford by pipelines which transport mixed natural gas liquids and crude oil.

Esso further expanded its oil and gas production interests through the purchase of Delhi Petroleum in 1987. Delhi Petroleum's interests were in the Cooper-Eromanga basins in central Australia. (Esso subsequently sold its Delhi interests in 2004).

In 1990, Esso ended 63 years as a marketer of petroleum products in Australia with the sale to Mobil of its downstream business.

On 30 November 1999, the Australian assets of Esso were merged with those of Mobil as part of the global merger of Exxon Corporation and Mobil Oil Corporation and today, Esso is part of the world's premier petroleum and petrochemical company.

Today, the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture supplies between 40 and 50 percent of east coast Australian domestic gas demand. Through our projects, including recent exploration activities in the Gippsland Basin, the West Barracouta gas development project and the $5.5 billion Kipper Tuna Turrum project, we are maintaining our commitment to invest in gas projects to continue to meet Australia’s energy needs.

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