America is slowly surrendering its ability to control the
petroleum it offers to the American motorist. American petroleum
companies have been snatched up by foreign companies with great vigor in
the last few years, but the recent proposed acquisition of
Pennzoil-Quaker State gives the merger mania a new twist.
In 1998, British Petroleum bought both Amoco and Arco, passing
it off as a "merger of equals," but before the ink was dry on the Amoco
deal, BP quickly announced that the new company would be run by British
management according to British-company standards and that the Amoco
executives who disagreed could join the other 10,000 U.S. employees who
had just been fired.
Now Netherlands-based Royal/Dutch Shell is snatching up
Pennzoil-Quaker State, increasing their share of the American motor-oil
market from 3% to a whopping 35%. Pennzoil and Quaker State just merged
last year under the usual premise that they needed to be bigger to be
"more competitive." Not only will Shell buy its way into a full third of
the market for lubricating oils, they will also gain control of over
2,000 Jiffy Lube oil-change centers across the country.
Formerly called Zapata Petroleum, Pennzoil was formed in part
by President George Bush, Sr. Now that another American company has sold
out to foreign investors, American consumers will unknowingly be sending
more of their dollars overseas as we lose the ownership of the companies
that, as General Motors recently put it, "Keep America Rolling."
It was interesting to hear that when British Petroleum
acquired Amoco, they intended to replace all Amoco outlets with the BP
format. Seeing that the plan has yet to be implemented on a large scale,
maybe they decided it would be a good idea to keep the Amoco red, white
and blue colors at their foreign gas stations after all.