The History of Engen

Deeply rooted. Highly committed.

As an oil company with a history dating back to 1881, Engen has spent every decade since then enriching the lives of the continent’s people. We’ve done this by identifying opportunities, finding innovative solutions, and providing energy that fuels Africa’s growth. It is why we now have a presence in 18 countries in sub-Saharan African and the Indian Ocean islands, while also exporting our products to over 30 more countries.

Guided by our vision to be considered the oil company of choice in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, we are more committed than ever to delivering petroleum-based products and retail convenience across the continent, and being a key driver of Africa's growth and its people’s success.



 

1881-1897

The Early Frontier

German immigrant Johann Gottlieb Schade introduces Vacuum Oil products to South Africa. His new harness oil, Vacuum Oil Blacking "containing the softening qualities of the best Neatsfoot oil and suitable for all leathers" instantly becomes the blacking of choice for the horse-drawn cabs of the Victorian Elite.

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1897-1908

A Decade of Adventure, Innovation and Turmoil

Vacuum Oil, backed by J.D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, opens a branch in Cape Town to service Southern Africa. With an established reputation for purity and efficiency in manufacturing, the company sells "oils for every purpose" as well as locust poison, axle grease and candles.

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1908-1920

Full Steam Ahead for the Vacuum Oil Company

The name Mobil, which eventually became the most famous brand in South Africa, is first introduced into Vacuum Oil’s product range in 1910 as Vacuum Mobil Oil and Gargoyle Mobil Oil. In 1911, Pegasus Motor Spirit is introduced as the "horseless carriage" becomes a “must-have” accessory, with 1913 seeing 4,000 new car sales in 12 months! in South Africa.

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1920-1930

Looking to a Good Future

The Great War is over and it is back to work for the technology and marketing aces of Vacuum Oil. Very soon our horse drawn delivery trailers are replaced by branded lorries , we issue our first branded full colour road map, and negotiate a 25 year lease in a reclaimed area of Durban Bay that will eventually became our tank farm at Island View.

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1930-1950

Determined to Succeed

Although sales suffered in the depression, the management of Vacuum South Africa take advantage of favourable lease conditions and property prices to expand operations. By the end of World War II, government and industry leaders are increasingly aware of the urgent need for a source of refined petroleum products to supply the needs of a growing nation. South Africa has to have its own oil refinery!

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1950-1960

A New and Exciting Decade

With the war behind them, creative thinkers strive for knowledge and improvements in lifestyle and business technology. Following lengthy negotiations between government and the now named Standard-Vacuum Oil Company, the unveiling of the foundation stone of South Africa’s first oil refinery takes place on 25 April 1952. The Stanvac Refinery is commssioned in May 1954 at a cost of £8m and with an initial capacity of 15, 000 barrels per day (bpd).

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1960-1970

Winds of Change

Joint ownership of the Standard-Vacuum Oil Company is brought to an end in 1960. Vacuum’s international interests are transferred to the Mobil Petroleum Company and the Standard Oil business is transferred to Esso Standard Eastern. In South Africa the company is renamed Mobil, a brand already well known and respected because of quality products like Mobiloil, Mobilgas and Mobil Diesel.

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1970-1980

Decade of Scientific Endeavours

Mobil scientists are at the forefront of developments in the petrochemical industry. Advances in catalysts, additives, lubricants, fuels and geophysics are largely due to their discoveries. An advanced laboratory at the Mobil refinery in Durban keeps pace with all technological advances, constanatly updating the plant's equipment to remain world class.

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1980-1990

A Turbulent Decade

South Africa reaches a turning point in the 1980s, when international pressure, sanctions and capital flight sound the beginning of the death knell for minority rule. In late 1989, Mobil International wakes up to its conscience and chooses to divest from South Africa, selling its South African assets to mining giant Gencor. The people of Mobil, however, emerge as a unified team.

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1990-2000

New Beginnings

Mobil is a household name. Changing it is a huge challenge. It is, however, a great opportunity to create a completely new identity. By 1993 the conversion from Mobil to Engen becomes the most successful re-branding exercise ever undertaken in South Africa. Engen is positioned as South African owned but with a broad African outlook.

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2000-2005

A Sustainable Future

In a new environmentally conscious world, Engen joins the call to action and assumes a leadreship role in addressing the urgent issues that will ensure a sustainable future. Our focus centres on Human Capital, Social Capital, Natural Capital, Financial Capital and Manufactured Capital.

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2005-2012

A Champion in Africa

"Engen launches EPIC 2016, which spells out the company’s plan to be ‘A Champion in Africa’ by 2016, as well as our five new corporate values – Integrity, Performance, Ownership, Empowered. Engen acquires Shell’s business in DRC, Gabon and Lesotho; Total’s businesses in Guinea Bissau, Rwanda and Burundi; and Chevron's businessses in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion and Zimbabwe."

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2012-

Oil Company of Choice in Sub Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands

Firmly established as a modern, innovative and caring company that offers superior quality, exceptional service, extensive choice and unique convenience, the Engen of today is a leading African energy company, driven by our five values of Integrity, Performance, Ownership, Empowered.

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