The Company that would grow into the Gulf Oil Corporation was founded in 1901, with the discovery of oil at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas.
A group of investors came together to promote the development of a modern refinery at nearby Port Arthur, Texas to process the oil. The largest investor was William Larimer Mellon of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mellon was of the Mellon banking family. Other investors included many of Mellon's Pennsylvania clients as well as some individuals from Texas. Mellon Bank and Gulf Oil remained closely associated thereafter. The Gulf Oil Corporation itself was formed in 1907, through the amalgamation of a number of oil businesses, principally the J.M. Guffey Petroleum and Gulf Refining companies of Texas. The name of the company refers to the Gulf of Mexico where Beaumont, Texas is located.
By 1980, Gulf exhibited many of the characteristics of a giant corporation that had lost its way. It had a poorly performing asset portfolio, associated with a depressed share price. The stock market value of Gulf started to drop below the break-up value of its assets. Such a situation attracted the interest of corporate raiders. Although a corporation in the top 100 of the Fortune 500 was in the early 1980's considered itself immune to takeover risk.
In the 1990's Gulf had been taken over by various other companies, however the new owners retained the Gulf brand.