Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO)
Type Private (subsidiary of BP America Inc.)
Industry Oil & Gas Extraction
Founded 1866
Headquarters La Palma, California
Area served United States
Parent BP plc
An ARCO filling station off Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles

Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) is an oil company with operations in the United States as well as in Indonesia, the North Sea, and the South China Sea.[1] It has more than 1,300 gas stations in the western part of the United States.[2] ARCO was originally formed by the merger of East Coast-based Atlantic Refining and California-based Richfield Petroleum in 1966. A further merger in 1969 brought in Sinclair Oil Corporation.[1] It became a subsidiary of UK-based BP in 2000 through its BP West Coast Products LLC (BPWCP) affiliate.[3]

ARCO is known for having low-priced gasoline compared with other national brands, mainly due to an early 1980s decision to emphasize cost cuts (cash only policy) and alternative sources of income (ampm). ARCO is headquartered in La Palma, California.[4][5]


The Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company's heritage dates to 1866; it became part of the Standard Oil trust in 1874, but achieved independence again when Standard Oil was broken up in 1911.

In 1915, Atlantic opens its first gas station on Baum Boulevard in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 1917, First Richfield Oil Company of California gas station at Slauson and Central Avenues in Los Angeles, California. Richfield Oil Company of California logo is an Eagle trademark.

Atlantic Refining Company is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1921, Sinclair Oil Company opens first modern service station in Chicago called "Greasing Palace No. 1". Sinclair gets into trouble with Teapot Dome scandal.

In 1966, Atlantic merges with the Richfield Oil Company of California. The first CEO was Robert Orville Anderson. The new company boasts a new trademark, a red diamond shape called the ARCO Spark, designed by Bauhaus artist, designer, and architect Herbert Bayer.

Commercial oil exploration started in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the 1960s and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, North America's largest oil field, was discovered on March 12, 1968, by Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and Exxon with the well Prudhoe Bay State #1. Key employees with ARCO Alaska were Marvin Mangus and John M. Sweet. The Richfield Oil Company of California had purchased the drilling rights to the land where the discovery well was located. British Petroleum had drilling rights near the discovery well.

ARCO acquired Sinclair Oil Corporation in 1969, but later divested certain Sinclair assets during the mid 1970s, resulting in Sinclair returning as a private company.

At one time ARCO had its headquarters in the City National Plaza complex in Downtown Los Angeles[6]

ARCO once had a presence in the southwestern U.S.  — a stretch of Texas State Highway 225 east of Loop 610 in Houston, Texas, had an oil tank farm once painted with the ARCO logo. Lyondell-Citgo would rebrand the oil tanks in the 1980s. ARCO's Corporate Headquarters were in the ARCO Center in Los Angeles at the corner of 5th and Flower Streets before they were acquired by BP. ARCO's Oil & Gas division headquarters were in downtown Dallas, Texas. The headquarters building was a 46-story office building designed by architect I.M. Pei, the ARCO Tower. ARCO closed the Dallas office and sold the building in the mid 1980s. Today, ARCO operates about 1100 stations in five US Western states: California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona.[7]

ARCO merged with Anaconda Copper Mining Company (ACM) of Montana in 1977. ACM holdings including the Berkeley Pit and the Anaconda, Montana Smelter. ARCO founder stated "he hoped Anaconda's resources and expertise would help him launch a major shale-oil venture, but that the world oil glut and the declining price of petroleum made shale oil moot." [8] The purchase turned out to be a regrettable decision for ARCO. Lack of experience with hard-rock mining, and a sudden drop in the price of copper to below seventy cents a pound, the lowest in years, caused ARCO to suspend all operations in Butte, Montana. By 1983, only six years after acquiring rights to the "Richest Hill on Earth", the Berkeley Pit was completely idle. By 1986, some ARCO properties were sold to billionaire industrialist Dennis Washington, whose company Montana Resources operates a much smaller open-pit mine east of the defunct Berkeley Pit.

In 1988 Atlantic brand was spun off for ARCO's East Coast stations, and was acquired by Sunoco. The ARCO brand is now used on the West Coast. ARCO specializes in discount gas by removing many frills, among them forcing prepayment for fuel, not accepting credit cards at most locations, and charging $0.45[9] for use of debit cards. In most locations, it is co-branded with ampm convenience stores, also a division of BP West Coast (ARCO introduced the ampm concept in 1979).

ARCO financed EASTLUND in the beginning of the 1990s for High Auroral Active Research Project (HAARP Project). In March, 1997, ARCO also leased almost all the gas stations of the (now) Santa Fe Springs, California based independent Thrifty Oil[10] group of 250 stations found throughout California[11] after a damaging price war which the independent Thrifty was unable to win.[12]

On April 18, 2000, ARCO was purchased by BP America and was completely merged into BP operations, except for ARCO Alaska which due to FTC requirements was sold by BP to Phillips Petroleum; ARCO as a subsidiary no longer exists.

Over the course of 2004 and 2005, ARCO signs have been replaced. New signs still have the Arco spark, but BP's Helios (BP's new white, yellow, and green "sunburst" mark named after the Greek Sun god, replacing the old British Petroleum shield mark)[13][14] is also located on the sign. A new tagline "ARCO - part of BP" has also appeared on some signs and advertisements. ARCO is known for sponsoring the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California,[15][dead link] with a license fee of $750,000/year through 2007.[16]

Superfund site

ARCO is the responsible party[citation needed] for America's largest Superfund site—a site that takes in the towns of Butte and Anaconda, and 120 miles (190 km) of the Clark Fork River including Milltown Dam. The region's water and soils were polluted by a century of mining and smelting. Chemicals of concern include many heavy metals and arsenic. On 7 February 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ announced that prolonged litigation with ARCO ended when ARCO agreed to pay $187 million to finance natural resource restoration activities.[17]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) (American oil company) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  2. "Official About ARCO Page". ARCO. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  3. "Legal information." ARCO. Retrieved on July 7, 2010.
  4. "B P West Coast Products LLC Company Profile". Retrieved 2011-07-07.
  6. "Welcome to ARCO Online." ARCO. Retrieved on July 7, 2010. "ARCO, 515 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, California 90071-2256."
  7. [1] Archived August 28, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Arthur M. Louis research associate Rosalind Klein Berlin (1986-04-14). "The U.S. Business Hall of Fame". Fortune.
  9. ARCO Gasoline Fill Smart - PayQuick
  10. Thrifty Oil Co.: gasoline retailer goes pump-to-pump with industry giants - Top 400 Private Awards | Los Angeles Business Journal | Find Articles at[dead link]
  11. [2] Archived October 18, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  12. "Refiners Maintain a Firm but Legal Grip on Supplies". The Los Angeles Times.,0,7589520.story?page=4&coll=la-home-business.
  13. SignResource Delivers Its 30,000th BP Helios Archived May 1, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. - Case Studies - BP and Corporate Greenwash
  15. "ARCO Arena Naming Rights".
  16. Script error
  17. Atlantic Richfield Company agrees to pay $187M for Montana Superfund Cleanup | Newsroom | US EPA

External links


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