Gulf Oil was a major global oil company from the 1900s to the 1980s. The eighth-largest American manufacturing company in 1941 and the ninth-largest in 1979, Gulf Oil was one of the so-called Seven Sisters oil companies. Prior to its merger with Standard Oil of California, Gulf was one of the chief instruments of the Mellon family fortune; both Gulf and Mellon Financial had their headquarters in Pittsburgh.
Gulf's former headquarters, originally referred to as "the Gulf Building" (now the Gulf Tower office condos), is an Art Deco skyscraper. The tallest building in Pittsburgh until 1970, when it was eclipsed by the U.S. Steel Tower, it is capped by a step pyramid structure several stories high. Until the late 1970s, the entire top was illuminated, changing color with changes in barometric pressure to provide a weather indicator that could be seen for many miles.
Gulf Oil Corporation (GOC) ceased to exist as an independent company in 1985, when it merged with Standard Oil of California (SOCAL), with both re-branding as Chevron in the United States. Gulf Canada, Gulf's main Canadian subsidiary, was sold the same year with retail outlets to Ultramar and Petro Canada and what became Gulf Canada Resources to Olympia & York. However, the Gulf brand name and a number of the constituent business divisions of GOC survived. Gulf has experienced a significant revival since 1990, emerging as a flexible network of allied business interests based on partnerships, franchises and agencies.Gulf, in its present incarnation, is a "new economy" business. It employs very few people directly and its assets are mainly in the form of intellectual property: brands, product specifications and scientific expertise. The rights to the brand in the United States are owned by Gulf Oil Limited Partnership (GOLC), which operates over 2,100 service stations and several petroleum terminals; it is headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts. The corporate vehicle at the center of the Gulf network outside the United States, Spain and Portugal is Gulf Oil International, a company owned by the Hinduja Group. The company's focus is primarily in the provision of downstream products and services to a mass market through joint ventures, strategic alliances, licensing agreements, and distribution arrangements. Gulf Oil International has its head office in the City of Westminster, London.