BP Shipping celebrated its 100-year anniversary yesterday, making it the longest continually operating company in the group.
Formed on April 30, 1915 as the British Tanker Company, the business has contributed to two world wars, the Great Depression, the closures of the Suez Canal, and the impact of oil nationalisations on the world economy and the movement of oil and gas.
It has also played a role in the evolution of safer and more environmentally sustainable shipping practices including inert gas systems, crude oil washing and double hulling.
John Ridgway, chief executive of BP Shipping, said: “I am delighted to have led this great business in its centenary year, and all the many thousands of people that have served BP Shipping over the course of a century can be rightly proud of the company.”
The firm has been responsible for the construction of more than 500 oil and gas tankers – an average launch rate of one new ship every 10 weeks of the century – as well as a myriad of small vessels to support BP’s international operations.
Today it operates around 50 oil and gas carriers with a further 200 large vessels and 400 coastal and barge vessels under charter transporting cargoes of oil, gas, refined products, lubricants and petrochemicals.
Company vessels and seafarers saw service in both world wars: between 1939 and 1945, 50 BP tankers – half of the entire fleet – were sunk in the Atlantic and Arctic Convoys and other theatres of war with the tragic loss of 657 lives.