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Oronite

history

The Oronite® brand name is derived from the Spanish word for gold, oro, and is a reference to the crude oil’s nickname, "black gold." Oronite has been synonymous with specialty petroleum-based products since 1917 when it was part of Standard Oil Company™ (California).

Chevron Oronite’s 100-year milestones
Throughout its long history, Oronite has played a critical role in improving lubricant performance. One of the earliest examples is the introduction in 1925 of Zerolene® F, an anti-chatter additive used to lubricate fabric transmission bands in the historic Model T Ford. View PDF

history of innovation

Oronite’s milestones include many industry breakthroughs in technology. The Oronite® brand started as a line of specialty products and ultimately transitioned into a global leader in developing, manufacturing and marketing quality additives that improve the performance of fuels and lubricants. We support our leadership position through research and technical centers around the world that create a comprehensive offering of hundreds of components and additive packages. We marked our 100-year brand anniversary in 2017 with a proud history of technological and product “firsts.” Here are some of the landmark events by decade.

Birthday cake with 100 candle

2010s

Completed major expansion projects in Singapore, Gonfreville and Oak Point additive plants; announced plans for new plant in Ningbo, China (2012-2017). 100th anniversary of Oronite brand (2017).

Picture of cargo ship

2000s

First fully qualified ISLAC GF-4 product (2004). Developed patented marine trunk piston engine oil with carboxylate technology (2005).

Chemistry icon

1990s

Expanded product range with acquisition of PARATONE® viscosity modifier business. Korea and China offices opened (1998). Opened Asia-Pacific region’s first world-scale lubricant additives plant in Singapore (1999).

Picture of train

1980s

New plant and Technology Center in Omaezaki, Japan. Established joint venture in India. First diesel locomotive engine oil to receive multi-grade approval (1989).

Icon of site's construction

1970s

Construction began on Mauá plant in Brazil (1977).

Icon of engine

1960s

First detergent additive for natural gas engine oils (1960). Karonite, a Japan joint venture, formed (1961). First deposit-control additive for gasoline to help keep engines clean (1969).

Picture of motorcycle

1950s

Revolutionary gasoline additive to help keep carburetors clean. First thermally-stable alkaline additive for marine engine cylinder oils (1954). Caltex Central Laboratory opens in The Netherlands. French affiliate, Orogil, formed; construction began on Gonfreville plant (1957). First ashless detergent for 2-cycle engine oils (1958).

Standard Oil of California classic logo

1940s

First detergent additive for passenger cars (1941). Oronite Chemical Company formed under Standard Oil of California. Oak Point manufacturing plant opened, began supplying additives to help extend the range of the U.S. submarine fleet (1943). First to develop detergent Alkane, the basic ingredient in most synthetic household detergents (1946).

Black and white picture of tractor working the land

1930s

Breakthrough additive package introduced for compounded oil (1935).

Icon of Ford Model T

1920s

First commercial use of chemicals to improve oil performance. Anti-chatter transmission additive (“Zeroline F”) designed for Ford Model T (1925).

Oronite classic logo

1910s

Oronite brand first used for a line of specialty oil products by Standard Oil Company of California (1917).

adding up for 100 years

Since its introduction in 1917 by Standard Oil Company (California), the Oronite brand has been synonymous with specialty petroleum-based products and has evolved into a recognized global leader in the development and manufacturing of lubricant and fuel additives. Oronite has a rich history filled with many technology breakthroughs. This video captures some of the highlights from the organization’s first 100 years of business.

celebrating 100 years with customers

Oronite hosted customers at events held in key business locations around the world to commemorate its centennial in 2017. The first of these events occurred in Beijing, marking the brand’s strong presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Celebrations were also held in New Orleans, Louisiana (United States), and Gonfreville (France).

asia pacific

For the 100-year anniversary of the Oronite brand in 2017, Chevron Oronite hosted a full day of activities in Beijing, China, where 99 years is often associated with long prosperity. Oronite President Des King reflected on our company’s almost century-long commitment to technological innovation, service and strong relationships in every aspect of our business.

Des King, president of Oronite, speaking at event in Beijing
During a keynote address, King offered a historical perspective to more than 300 customers, government and industry stakeholders, and Oronite employees.

As he spoke about Oronite’s development of a wide range of fuel and lubricant additive products, King singled out the anti-chatter additive used to lubricate the belts of the historic Model T Ford in the mid-1920s. Also highlighted were some unique products introduced under the Oronite brand in its early days, such as cleaning fluids, furniture polish and even shingle oils to preserve the life of wood shingle roofs. However, the common thread throughout the years has been the steady stream of technological innovations introduced by the company, ranging from some of the first fuel additives to innovative detergent chemistries used in a variety of engines.

Asia Pacific icon

Did you know?

Oronite is progressing a planned project to build a new manufacturing facility in Ningbo, China, with startup planned for 2021.

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He added that much of Oronite’s research takes place in Asia, including a growing presence in China. “Our research center in Japan has long supported us both regionally and globally, and while that valued expertise will continue, we are steadily growing our research and field test support team in Shanghai, with a specific focus on China,” said King.

americas

Chevron Oronite’s recent 100th anniversary celebration in the Americas Region drew upon its regional roots with a kickoff event at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. Created in 2000 to focus on the U.S. contribution to the Allied victory in WWII, the museum offers a rich mix of interactive exhibits, oral histories and personal vignettes about everyday Americans who fought in the war. The historic connection is a strong one, as Oronite built its world-class Oak Point additives plant in 1943 at nearby Belle Chasse, Louisiana, at the urging of the U.S. government. Oronite additives were a critical component in diesel engine oil lubricants that helped extend the range of the U.S. submarine fleet.

Steamboat at Oak Point plant in New Orleans, Louisiana
The second day of Oronite’s celebration featured a trip down the Mississippi River on a steamboat to the Oak Point plant, where the guests received a tour of the facility’s operations.

At the kickoff event for customers, suppliers and partners, Oronite President Des King thanked the company’s guests for helping to “celebrate a journey that began a century ago.”

100th celebration at oak point

See how guests were transported to and from Oronite’s Oak Point Additives Manufacturing Plant in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, via the Mississippi River and a historic steamboat.

building the oak point plant

Oronite’s construction of the Oak Point plant was a direct outgrowth of a request made to Chevron’s predecessor, Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL), by the U.S. government on December 10, 1941, just three days after the Pearl Harbor attack. The U.S. military required access to a facility that could provide additives for diesel engine oil lubricants needed by the U.S. Pacific and Atlantic fleets without fear of possible enemy attacks on either coast. SOCAL chose a location a short distance up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico, which met the government’s approval.

Due to the scarcity of steel, the plant was constructed from equipment bought, dismantled and transported from an obsolete refinery in Shreveport, Louisiana. By early 1944, the plant shipped its first tank car of additives. A U.S. general later commented on the plant’s value to the U.S. war effort, praising SOCAL for building a facility that was twice the requested capacity.

In ensuing years, Oak Point has been upgraded and expanded numerous times to keep pace with the demands of the marketplace. One of the largest additives plants in the world, Oak Point is Oronite’s anchor plant in the Americas Region and operates as part of the company’s interconnected global supply chain network.

europe, africa, middle east

A landmark gathering of major customers, suppliers and distributors joined with Chevron Oronite employees to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Oronite brand in its Europe, Africa, Middle East (EAME) region as well as the 60th anniversary of the Gonfreville plant. Oronite President Des King welcomed the nearly 100 guests and over 40 Oronite employees to the full-day celebration featuring a kick-off event at the 850-year-old Valasse Abbey in France’s Normandy region and a tour of the company’s world-class additive plant in nearby Gonfreville.

Oronite employees and customers gather for a speech at the event
A large contingent of customers, distributors and suppliers gathered in France for the 100th anniversary event.

Acknowledging the many attendees who journeyed from as far away as South Africa for the event, King said, “We strongly believe that the mutual growth and prosperity we’ve enjoyed together here in the EAME region and beyond is due to the enduring relationships we’ve built over the years, and that certainly makes this event a very special one.”

built to meet emerging needs

The Gonfreville plant was built in 1957 to help serve the needs of two new Oronite affiliates in France: Petrosynthese, which sold alkanes, a key material in household detergents; and Orogil, which sold lube oil additives. The plant expanded rapidly to serve the growing needs of motorists in Europe and other parts of the EAME region and is currently the largest additive manufacturing plant in Europe with a workforce of more than 700 employees. Gonfreville produces hundreds of different additive packages that improve the performance and extend the life of fuels, engine oils and lubricating fluids. The plant also incorporates a full-fledged technical laboratory.

Gonfreville’s central location provides easy access to transportation networks, allowing the plant to deliver products to its customers via marine vessels, trucks and rail cars.

Facts about the Gonfreville plant:

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