Shell Oil, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, properly named Royal Dutch/Shell Group, was founded in 1890 by Jean Kessler, along with Henri Deterding and Hugo Loudon, when a Royal charter was granted by the Queen of the Netherlands to a small oil exploration company known as "Royal Dutch."
To compete against the giant American oil company, Standard Oil, in 1907 Royal Dutch merged with The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company, p.l.c. of the UK. ADRs are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under RD (Royal Dutch) and SC (Shell).
One of the original Seven Sisters, Royal Dutch/Shell is the world’s second largest oil company and a major player in the petrochemical industry and the solar business. Shell has five core businesses: Exploration and Production, Oil Products, Downstream Gas and Power, Chemicals and Renewables, and operates in more than 140 countries across the world.
These companies are headed by the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company of the Netherlands and The "Shell" Transport and Trading Company, p.l.c. of the United Kingdom. These two companies hold all other subsidiary companies. The Shell interest in subsidiaries is always divided 60/40 in favor of Royal Dutch. In many cases, subsidiary companies are held in partnership with others, be these governments or others.
Although to meet Company Law in all countries there are nominated directors, the Shell Group of Companies is in fact run by an executive body whose members are chosen from the overall group.
An original investor, the largest single shareholder of Royal Dutch/Shell is the holding company for the Dutch Royal Family, set up by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
Shell has been criticized by environmental and human rights groups for a number of their practices. Their involvement in Nigeria came to the forefront after the execution of dissident Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others. Shell was also attacked for plans to dump an old oil platform in the North Sea and eventually agreed to disassemble it onshore.