The company that grew into the world's third-largest oil company began life as the Texas Co., founded in 1902 after the famed Spindletop gusher near Beaumont, Tex., opened that state's oil fields. In fact, Texaco--the name it adopted in 1959-- was one of only two big U.S. oil companies (the other was Gulf) that were not part of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil empire.
In its early years, Texaco was dominated by Joe Cullinan, a Texas oilman, and his New York financier-partner, Arnold Schlaet. Friction soon developed between the Texas and New York contingents; that sparring didn't end until the headquarters were moved to New York City and eventually suburban White Plains.
Texaco was a pioneer in development of oil fields in the Middle East. In the 1920s, it invested in the nascent oil fields of Bahrain, a Persian Gulf sheikdom. In 1936, it became a 50% partner (with Chevron) in developing Saudi Arabia's gigantic oil fields.
It also was an early developer of oil and gas in Louisiana.
Critics have claimed that since the 1950s, Texaco has been slow to develop new reserves of crude oil, and that left the company particularly vulnerable to the energy shocks of the 1970s. In fact, its reserves ranked ninth among those of world oil producers just before it acquired Getty Oil in 1984.