Pam Oil Service supplying oil to households around 1960.

The switch to oil and gas

The end of the Second World War marks the start of new era, with oil and gas replacing coal as the main source of energy. Oil and gas are increasingly used in maritime transport, industry, and eventually in households and office buildings too.

SHV plays an active part in this transition, switching its technical infrastructure and network of distributors away from coal to oil and gas.

Opportunity from the USA

By the end of the 19th century, oil is being extracted and used on an ever larger scale. The expansion of the combustion engine into automobiles, ships, and factories intensifies the worldwide search for oil fields in the 1920s and 30s. In the Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell is already active in the industry. SHV, a much larger company, also begins to show an interest – albeit to a relatively small degree.

After the uncertain years that follow the end of the Second World War, the world begins to recover. The Marshall Plan, launched by the USA in 1947, is designed to rebuild war-torn Europe and drives US companies to establish businesses in Europe. Caltex – a joint venture between the Standard Oil Company of California (now Chevron) and the Texas Fuel Company (now Texaco) – seizes the opportunity. In 1950, it opens a refinery in the Port of Rotterdam, next to Shell’s industrial zone.

Oil refineries in Pernis near Rotterdam in 1957.
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