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The History of Sunoco

Sunoco has grown from its humble roots as a small oil company in Pittsburgh, PA, to one of the largest fuel distribution companies in the United States. Sunoco’s rich, 130 plus-year heritage, legacy and reputation for innovation, and commitment to its local communities are foundational elements of this iconic American brand. Today, Sunoco distributes fuel to over 5,000 gas station locations in more than 30 states.

1886

Pennsylvania Roots

Joseph Newton Pew and Edward O. Emerson were partners at Peoples Natural Gas Company in Pittsburgh, PA, when they decided to expand their gas business to oil. It proved to be a success. Within a few years, the oil company had acquired pipelines, leases and storage tanks – emerging as one of the area’s leading suppliers of crude oil.

On March 17, 1890, they made it official with a new name. The Sun Oil Company was producing, transporting, and storing oil as well as refining, shipping, and marketing petroleum.

Sun Oils vintage sign
Large ship pulling into a dock
1916

Expanding To Shipbuilding

As the oil company grew, it expanded into related services and subsidiaries. In 1916, the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company was established.

Vintage photo of Sun OIl Company gas station
1920s

First Service Station

Sun opened its first service station in Ardmore, PA, and shortly after, another in Toledo, OH.

On November 12, 1925, Sun Oil Company went public – its stock appearing for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange.

Before the decade was over, Sun was in the oilfield equipment business with the 1929 formation of Sperry-Sun, a joint venture with Sperry Gyroscope.

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1937

Landmark In Refining Industry

One of the most dramatic events of the 1930s for the company, and the refining industry, took place when Sun placed on stream the world’s first large-scale, commercial catalytic cracking plant in Marcus Hook, PA, in 1937. The Marcus Hook plant is still owned and in operation today, serving as a refining facility location for the company’s race fuels.

Two empty glass quarts that typically hold fuel, stamped with the Sunoco logo
A stack of coal used for mining
1941

Expanding To Mining

Always striving to produce better products, Sun got into the mining business in 1941, forming the Cordero Mining Company in Nevada to supply mercury for Sunoco motor oils. The metal proved vital for the United States Military in World War II.

1950s

Beyond The States

Sun began expanding north and south in the 1950s. In Canada, Sun started a 15,000-barrels-per-day refinery in Sarnia, Ontario. And, in Venezuela beginning in 1957, Venezuelan Sun Oil Company produced more than 1 billion barrels of oil from Lake Maracaibo before ceasing operations in 1975 when the Venezuelan government nationalized Sun’s holdings.

A map of North America showcasing Sunoco locations in the 1950s, starting on the east coast and then expanding to Canada and Venezuela
Vintage Blue Sunoco fuel accessory
1956

Invention Of The Custom Blending Pump

Sun revolutionized the oil industry when it introduced the Custom Blending Pump, a novel system for dispensing a choice of five octane grades of gasoline from a single pump. A model of the pump is currently on display at the Smithsonian.

Driver in a Sunoco race car
1960s

Relationship with motorsports begins

The Sunoco brand officially entered the motorsports scene, forging a partnership with the legendary Roger Penske Racing Team and driver Mark Donohue. This partnership had tremendous success, including winning the 1972, Indianapolis 500.

Explore Sunoco Racing
1970s

Reshaping The Company

Major restructuring reshaped the company in 1975, when it organized into 14 operating units, two property companies and a non-operating parent company. This was accompanied by a move to a new corporate headquarters in Radnor, PA. Reflecting the diversification of the company, Sun Oil Company was renamed again to the Sun Company, Inc. in 1976.

Logo of Sun Company
Logo of Ultra 94
1980s

Ultra Release

With a history of innovation and love of performance, Sun developed and released the market’s highest octane unleaded gas, Sunoco ULTRA 94, in 1983. The company discontinued ULTRA 94 in 2005, after a solid 22-year run.

In the late 1980s, Sun Company, Inc. began rebranding its fueling stations under the name Sunoco, to match the name of its gasoline.

Learn About Quality Fuels
1998

New Name

In November of 1998, Sun Company, Inc. changed its name to Sunoco, Inc.

Sunoco logo

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals logo

$11MM

Raised for children’s hospitals and medical research since 2000

2000s

Giving Back

Sunoco is proud to give back to the communities it serves. Over the years, the company has partnered with both national and local organizations to provide financial contributions, fuel donations, and volunteer time to help assist those in need.

Race cars making a turn around a race track
2004

Racing Fuel Of Choice

In 2004, Sunoco signed on as the Official Fuel of NASCAR®, and more recently IndyCar and the NHRA. In total, Sunoco is the official fuel of more than 50 racing series.

Explore Race Fuels
Sunoco fuel pump
Energy Transfer logo
2012

Joining With The Best

Sunoco began the transformation of its business to focus on logistics and transportation fuels in 2012, when it was acquired by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, one of the largest natural gas and natural gas distribution companies in the US. The company’s operations include the gathering, treating, processing, marketing and transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids.

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2018

Launch of the Sunoco App

To help customers save time and get rewarded at the pump, Sunoco launched its new mobile app in 2018. The app gives customers the fastest way to fuel with quick access to the closest Sunoco station, simple payment options, integration with grocery rewards and exclusive offers—all right through their phone.

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Health, Environmental, And Safety

Sunoco believes it has a responsibility to protect the environment and provide a safe workplace. This is a fundamental core value embedded throughout operations and within its business landscape. Sunoco is proud to be industry leaders when it comes to environmental practices and consistently exhibits 1st quartile safety performance when benchmarked against peers.

Worker wearing a hardhat checking a fuel gage

Safety Statement

Sunoco is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment to employees, customers, and contractors. It strives for continuous safety improvement and looks for opportunities to improve safety culture and practices. Sunoco’s employees are the company’s and their family’s most valuable asset; therefore, there is no job or priority more important than ensuring the safety of Sunoco’s employees. The company executes this core organizational goal by doing the right thing, as demonstrated by a culture of strong safety leadership. Sunoco works diligently to recognize and then mitigate potential hazards, soliciting employee solutions. It delivers detailed health and safety training and instills in all employees a personal accountability and ownership to perform work in a safe manner, by complying with Sunoco’s Health and Safety Policy and Procedures and all applicable federal, state, and local safety and health regulations.

Two workers in safety suits and hardhats looking at their clipboards

Environmental Statement

Sunoco takes great pride and commitment in working to protect the public and environment. It executes this commitment throughout the business landscape by adhering to all applicable federal, state, and local environmental regulations and standards. In addition, the company adheres to Sunoco’s internal Environmental Policy and Procedures. Sunoco’s operating facilities take this core organizational value very seriously and integrate sound environmental practices and controls into daily operations, as well as look for opportunities for continuous operational improvement to enhance environmental controls and practices to protect the public and environment.