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Our Story

Our Story

While there has been a world of change over the past century, a lot of things are not so different after all. Something extraordinary was brewing in 1910. A brilliant young entrepreneur and pioneer oilman by the name of Henry L. Doherty had a vision of creating exceptional business opportunities inspired by progressive ideas of improving the lives of everyday people. On September 2, 1910, Doherty founded the Cities Service Company...

And so began the heritage of an enduring success story.

Cities Service would, in due course, lead to today’s CITGO Petroleum Corporation. As one of the first corporations to supply gas and electric utility services to the rapidly developing Midwest, the Cities Service company quickly became a significant powerhouse, and wellspring of the oil and gas exploration, production, refining and marketing industries. From its founder’s contribution to lighting the Statue of Liberty for the first time in 1916, to supplying fuel to U.S. forces during World War II, Cities Service built its foundation as a prominent fixture in the nation’s oil and gas industry. In 1965, Cities Service debuted its new marketing brand, CITGO; and the now familiar “trimark” logo. Retaining the first syllable of its long-standing name and ending with “GO,” the brand symbolized energy and progressiveness.

Today, CITGO has cultivated a legacy of blending business with purpose, an identity that differentiates it from its industry peers. Our philanthropic DNA of helping improve people’s lives is built on a solid foundation of history, vision and values – all of which have stood the test of time. By blending business with purpose, there is balance between being a successful oil company, while giving back to our communities, demonstrating that after all this time, CITGO still specializes in "cities service."

Learn more about the fascinating history of CITGO through the decades.


1910
1910

Pioneer oilman Henry L. Doherty created the Cities Service Company.

It would, eventually, lead to today’s CITGO. The company was one of the first to supply gas and electricity to public utilities in the U.S.

1915

Cities Service by now had acquired 98 subsidiaries.

The company was headquartered at 60 Wall Street in New York

1916

Lady Liberty

Henry Doherty and Josef Pulitzer installed nighttime lighting on Lady Liberty in New York Harbor.

1918

Cities Service subsidiaries produced half the oil used by the Allies in the final year of World War I.

1919

Cities Service acquired seven refineries.

That year, Henry Doherty used motion pictures to attract investors.

1920
1927

Cities Service introduced “Koolmotor” high-octane gasoline.

1928

Cities Service discovered The Oklahoma City Pool,

one of the largest and most productive oil fields of all time. By now, Cities Services’ companies controlled or drilled 176 wells and produced 160,000 barrels per day.

1930
1931

Cities Service became a billion-dollar corporation with 25,000 employees.

1936

Cities Service Marketing moves to Tulsa

Cities Service Marketing moved from Chicago, Illinois, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That same year, the company expanded and was now comprised of 24 petroleum companies, 45 electric companies and 15 natural gas companies.

1937

Anthony Lucas Medal

Company founder, Henry Doherty, received the Anthony Lucas Medal for “Distinguished Achievement for Improving the Technique of Finding and Producing Oil.”

1940
1940

Kenmore Square Sign

The iconic Cities Service (now CITGO) sign was erected in Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts.

1943

The Big Inch

Cities Service completed construction of “the Big Inch” – the biggest, longest pipeline to date – which served to help supply petroleum products to the war effort.

1944

CITGO Lake Charles Refinery was built.

During that same year, Cities Service refineries processed 53 million barrels of crude oil to fuel the war effort.

1945

By the end of World War II,

Cities Service oil tankers aided efforts delivering 32 million barrels of oil to military forces around the globe.

1950
1952

Cities Service began exploration in the Middle East.

1952

Cities Service joint venture discovered oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

1957

Cities Service won a contract for exclusive rights to operate service stations on the New Jersey Turnpike.

1957

Cities Service delivered jet fuel to the U.S. Air Force for the first time.

1960
1960

Cities Service now operated in five countries and produced 47 million barrels of crude a day.

1964

Cities Service launched its popular “Eager Beaver” advertising campaign.

1965

Debut of the CITGO Brand

Cities Service unveiled its new marketing brand; retaining the first syllable of the heritage company and adding “GO” to imply power, energy and progressiveness.

1965

CITGO Branded Gasoline

Announced on May 16th, 1965.

1970
1972

CITGO Quik Mart

CITGO Quik Mart debuted. This pioneering retail concept store combined the sale of gasoline with convenient food items.

1974

Cities Services moved its headquarters to Tulsa.

1974

Cities Services discovered oil in Wyoming

1980
1983

CITGO became a standalone refining, marketing and transportation company.

The company that year was also acquired by the Southland Corporation, operators of the 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores.

1986

Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) purchased 50 percent of CITGO.

That year, the company sponsored the Wood Brothers NASCAR race team.

1987

Team CITGO

The official company volunteer group was founded.

1988

CITGO branded outlets increased to nearly 7,700, a 22 percent jump in just one year.

1988

CITGO & MDA

CITGO employees and Marketers raised a record $1.25 million for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

1990
1990

CITGO became wholly owned by Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

That same year, the former Champlin Refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, became a part of the company’s refining network.

1993

CITGO entered into joint venture agreement with LYONDELL Chemical to form the Lyondell-CITGO Refinery Company in Houston.

1997

14,885 Branded Outlets

Approximately 14,885 CITGO branded retail outlets existed. At the time, the number of outlets was more than any other company in the nation.

2000
2002

Midwest Refinery in Lemont

PDV Midwest Refinery in Lemont, Illinois became part of CITGO refining operations.

2004

CITGO Headquarters

CITGO relocated its headquarters from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Houston, Texas.

2005

The CITGO brand celebrated 40 years.

2009

CITGO FUELING GOOD® charitable giving program launched.

2010
2010

Celebrating 100 Years

On September 2, CITGO celebrated its 100-year heritage with a clean, new, contemporary brand image.

2013

CITGO introduced TriCLEAN® gasoline.

2014

CITGO Lake Charles Refinery in Louisiana celebrated its 70th anniversary.

2015

CITGO Corpus Christi Refinery in Texas celebrated its 80th anniversary.  

In Boston, 2015 marked the 75th year since the original CITGO Sign was installed atop Kenmore Square, becoming one of the most iconic landmarks of the city’s skyline.

2016

CITGO & MDA

CITGO, the largest corporate sponsor for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), celebrated its 30-year partnership with MDA, which raised nearly $200 million since January 1986.

2016

CITGO Lemont Refinery in Illinois celebrated its 90th anniversary.

2017

TEAM CITGO

Employee volunteer group, Team CITGO, celebrated 30 years since its founding in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

NOW

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