by Dean Henderson

In 1906, the US government ordered the dissolution of the Rockefeller Standard Oil Trust. On May 15, 1911, the US Supreme Court concurred, declaring, “Seven men and a corporate machine have conspired against their fellow citizens. For the safety of the Republic we now decree that this dangerous conspiracy must be ended by November 15th.” But the “breakup” of Standard Oil never occurred and only increased the wealth of the Rockefeller family, which retained a 25% interest in each of the new companies. Over time those companies would once again combine to become the Four Horsemen of Oil. Who are they?

In June 2005, a Chevron Texaco spokesman explained that his giant oil company would drop the word “Texaco” from its name to “eliminate any confusion.” But with oil at $60 per barrel, a pending Chevron offer to purchase Unocal, and criticism of the reformulated Standard Oil monopoly on the rise, it is more plausible that the move was made to create confusion.

In 1975, Anthony Sampson wrote The Seven Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Made, bestowing that collective name on a shadowy oil cartel which, throughout its history, has sought to eliminate competitors and control the world’s oil. After a tidal wave of mergers at the turn of the millennium, Sampson’s “Seven Sisters” (Exxon, Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum (BP), Gulf, Chevron and Texaco) are now four giant oil companies.

In my 2005 book, Big Oil and Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families and Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics and Terror Network, I refer to these behemoths as the Four Horsemen: Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco and Royal Dutch Shell.

The Illumination Merchants



By the late 1800s, John D. Rockefeller had become popularly known as “the Illumination Merchant,” during a time when his kerosene was powering the reading lamps of most American households. Rockefeller’s nickname also alluded to his membership in a secret society of global elites known as the Illuminati. By 1895, with funding from Kuhn Loeb and Rothschild banks, his Standard Oil owned 95% of all oil refineries in the US. Summing up his attitude toward his new oil monopoly, Rockefeller once stated, “The day of combination is here to stay. Individualism is gone, never to return.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Swedish Nobel and French Rothschild families discovered oil in Russia through their Far East Trading Company. The Dutch House of Orange joined forces with the British House of Windsor in the Dutch East Indies to launch Royal Dutch Petroleum. The Rothschilds and these European monarchs are the Illuminated leaders of Freemasonry in the Old World. The Illuminati know that energy is the key to global hegemony and crude oil has become their primary tool in that quest.

By 1892, Marcus Samuel’s Shell Oil began shipping South Sea crude through the new Suez Canal to supply Europe’s factories. The Samuel family controls London’s biggest merchant bank, Hill Samuel, along with the trading house Samuel Montague, one of five London banks that “fix” the price of gold each morning.

In 1903, the Nobel and Rothschild’s Far East Trading, which was financed by King Wilhelm III, combined with Samuel and Oppenheimer’s Shell Oil to form the Asiatic Petroleum Company. The Dutch and British monarchs soon after merged their company with Asiatic and the Royal Dutch Shell monstrosity was born.

The fourth Horseman was born in 1872 when Baron Julius du Reuter, patriarch of the family who launched Britain’s Reuter’s News Service, was granted his fifty-year concession in Iran. In 1914, the British government took control of his Anglo-Persian Company and it was renamed British Petroleum (BP).

Standard Oil New York merged with Vacuum Oil to form Socony-Vacuum, which became Mobil in 1966. Standard Oil Indiana joined with Standard Oil Nebraska and Standard Oil Kansas and, by 1985, was known as Amoco. In 1972, Standard Oil New Jersey became Exxon. In 1984, Standard Oil California joined with Standard Oil Kentucky to become Chevron, which then bought the Mellon-controlled Gulf Oil. Standard Oil Ohio was bought out by BP, which then bought ARCO.

In the late 1990s, BP swallowed up the old Standard Indiana, creating BP Amoco. In 1999, Exxon and Mobil merged in a $75 billion monster deal creating Exxon Mobil. A year later Chevron and Texaco joined forces to create Chevron Texaco.

The Four Horsemen Ride On

Following the Second World War the Four Horsemen focused on the Middle East, where the cartel operated under names like Iranian Consortium, Iraqi Petroleum Company and ARAMCO. With the rise of OPEC as a producer cartel, the companies devised increasingly sophisticated ways to diminish OPEC’s collective bargaining ability. Nationalistic governments were destabilized, discredited and overthrown by the CIA. Puppet monarchies were established in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. In 1980, President Reagan pushed for the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council, consisting of these aforementioned OPEC monarchies, which has served to divide OPEC.

A more recent Four Horsemen trick has been to increase oil production in non-OPEC nations. The OPEC nations of Indonesia, Venezuela and Nigeria provide case studies of Four Horsemen shenanigans:

1.  Indonesia.  The 1999 rupiah devaluation thrust Indonesia into an extended period of civil unrest and economic meltdown. A December 28, 1998, article in Business Week details Mobil’s massive oilfields and petrochemical facilities in the troubled Aceh region of northern Sumatra. Indonesian troops under the direction of President Suharto, whom the CIA had installed during a 1964 coup which overthrew the nationalist Sukarno government, massacred protesters at these Mobil facilities. It was a moment of historical continuity. In 1882, Aceh tribesman had attacked RD/Shell headquarters in the very same region. The Dutch colonial government put down the rebellion in similarly brutish fashion.

Indonesia was made an economic basket case when a consortium of US banks led by Citibank began dumping money into the lap of General Ibnu Sutowo, Suharto’s right-hand man who controlled the purse strings at Pertamina, the state oil company. Sutowo squandered the loot on palaces, a fleet of aircraft, a chain of hotels and a white Rolls Royce. The Indonesian Central Bank was kept in the dark as the bills piled up. In 1974, Sutowo flew to Gothenberg, Sweden, where he christened the new oil supertanker Ibnu alongside his friend, Bank of New York insider, Itzak Rappaport, before playing a round of golf with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Sam Snead.

The Pertamina loans topped $6 billion and Indonesia is still burdened with that debt today. Advising the Indonesian government on financial matters are Lazard Freres, Kuhn Loeb and Warburg, a group which calls itself The Triad, and which also “advises” the nations of Congo, Gabon, Sri Lanka, Panama and Turkey.

2.  Venezuela.  In Spooks: The Haunting of America, Jim Hougan alleges that Exxon’s Creole Petroleum was founded by the CIA and that they continue to ‘share office space’ in Venezuela. Four Horsemen buddy, Bechtel, built the Mena Grande pipeline to service Creole’s oil interests. The country’s bolivar has been sharply devalued in recent months as the Four Horsemen and the international bankers continue their campaign against populist president, Hugo Chavez. In 2002, the country’s wealthy elite called for a general strike, causing Chavez to step down temporarily. Later that year the ricos took another run at Chavez, but he refused to yield and is currently leading a continent-wide attempt to break away from the IMF/World Bank financial fold by redirecting Venezuela’s vast oil wealth southward.

3.  Nigeria.  RD/Shell and Chevron dominate the oil industry in Nigeria, where they produce the benchmark Bonny Light crude used in aviation fuels and other high-grade products. Four Horsemen Nigerian Delta operations have been at the epicenter of political violence that has killed over 10,000 people in Nigeria. On November 10, 1995, Nigerian playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other protest leaders were hung by the military junta of General Soni Abacha, another in a line of Four Horsemen puppets who have ruled Nigeria. Abacha had given Shell the green light to drill on Ogoni tribal lands, resulting in protests by a half-million Ogoni people, who said Shell had badly polluted their land and water.

Saro-Wiwa’s family sued Shell for complicity in his death, which gained international attention. The lawsuit accused Shell of wrongful death, torture, summary execution, and arbitrary arrest and detention. Saro-Wiwa’s brother, a plaintiff in the suit, stated, “This is a classic case of the methods used by multinationals against those who challenge them. Taking Shell to court is one of many nonviolent methods of struggle against the company’s role in the human rights and environmental degradation of Ogoni.”

Only a month after the hangings, Shell defiantly announced plans to embark on a $3.8 billion natural gas project in Nigeria in tandem with the Nigerian junta, the French Elf Aquitaine and the Italian Agip. Nigerians were outraged and on March 4, 1997, protestors took 127 Shell employees prisoner, burned and looted Shell gas stations and occupied its oil platforms. Shell was forced to cut back production in Nigeria and came under increased scrutiny from human rights groups around the world. In July 2002, a group of Nigerian women took Chevron Texaco employees hostage and occupied its facilities. A day later the company’s Lagos headquarters was struck by lightning.

These examples of Four Horsemen brutality in OPEC nations provide another reason the companies are increasingly moving to non-OPEC sources. They have simply worn out their welcome.

Big Fish Swimming Downstream

John D. Rockefeller himself did not control crude reserves. Instead, he invested heavily in refining and cut deals with the Morgan-controlled railroads to cut his shipping costs. Texas wildcatters had to pay much more to ship their oil, and they possessed neither the esoteric knowledge of refining crude nor the capital to build the expensive refineries. All their money was tied up in drilling rigs, which were not cheap either. By 1895, Standard Oil controlled 95% of both the shipping and refining of US oil.

Today the Rockefeller family fortune is even more heavily invested in “downstream” oil operations (industry jargon for activities away from the wellhead), such as petrochemicals and plastics. Such activities also include industries dependent on oil, such as banking, aerospace and automobile manufacturing. In the 1980s, long-time Chase Manhattan chairman David Rockefeller invested $35 billion in Singapore, which has since become an important refining and storage center. RD/Shell’s largest single refinery is at Pulau Bukom, Singapore; while Exxon Mobil operates the giant Jurong refinery there.

The Four Horsemen have followed the money downstream from the oil wells, becoming the world’s largest refiners and marketers of crude oil in all of its various end-product forms. RD/Shell is the leading marketer and refiner and is currently the source of 1 in 10 barrels of refined product in the world. Seventy-seven percent of Shell profits now come from refining and production of petrochemicals. Shell owns the world’s largest refinery complex on the Netherlands Antilles island of Aruba, just off the Venezuelan coast. The completion of this massive complex caused Venezuelan crude to become much more important to global oil supplies. Crude oil from African nations like Nigeria and Angola is also refined at the Shell Aruba facility, which sits next to a hulking Exxon Mobil refinery.

Over 60% of Exxon’s 1991 profits came from downstream operations. In the first quarter of 1991, Exxon made a $2.4 billion profit, the highest quarterly profit since Rockefeller founded Standard Oil of NJ in 1882. It was no coincidence that the Gulf War was being prosecuted during this time. In the early 1990s, Exxon bought the plastics division of Allied Signal, and entered joint ventures with both Dow and Monsanto in the thermoplastic elastomer realm. According to Exxon Mobil’s 2001 10K filing to the SEC, the company netted $17 billion in year 2000, far surpassing the record Gulf War profits. In recent quarters, Exxon Mobil has broken all records, thanks in large part to the current Iraq occupation.

The Four Horsemen are the top four retailers of gas in the US, and they own every major pipeline in the world and the vast majority of oil tankers. Recently, both BP and Shell have gone on a shopping spree of US gas stations. RD/Shell owns the most tankers, with 114 ships in its armada. Recently, the company added seven more liquefied natural gas tankers. Shell has 133,000 employees worldwide and boasted assets of $105 billion in 1991. Shell’s Bullwinkle oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico is taller than the world’s highest building.

Exxon Mobil leads the way in producing lubricant base stocks (motor oil, transmission fluid, etc.), and its scientists invented butyl rubber. The company has operations in 200 countries, and is the only firm that operates in the harsh Beaufort Sea, situated near Alaska, where it drills from nineteen “islands of steel.” In addition, the company owns most of the land in Yemen (5.6 million acres), Oman and Chad.

The Four Horsemen have been careful not to divulge their refining secrets. Much of Saudi Arabia’s crude is refined in Bahrain under the watchful eye of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. As of 1980, there were 900 oil refineries in the world; only thirteen of those located in the Persian Gulf States. As of 1969, Exxon alone owned 67 refineries in 37 countries.

Even in nationalistic Venezuela—the one OPEC nation which has acquired technical expertise of refining processes—PDVSA oil (the state-owned oil company) flows through an Exxon Mobil pipeline, built by Bechtel, to huge refineries in Aruba, owned by Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil. In Nigeria, crude oil arrives at port via BP Amoco pipelines built by M.W. Kellogg (now Kellogg, Brown & Root), which is loaded onto Chevron Texaco tankers and shipped to the same Aruba refineries. (Kellogg, Brown & Root is the engineering and construction arm of Halliburton, which calls itself “the world’s largest diversified energy services, engineering and construction company,” with operations in more than 100 countries and 2002 sales of $12.4 billion.)

The Octopus Requires Energy

There is a direct correlation between downstream investment and concentration of economic power in the oil patch. The two most vertically integrated companies, RD/Shell and Exxon Mobil, are far and away the most powerful of the Four Horsemen. These same behemoths have also led the charge toward horizontal integration within the energy industry, investing heavily in natural gas, coal and uranium resources.

Shell has been the world’s #1 producer of natural gas since 1985. Much of this production is done through a joint venture with Exxon Mobil. In the growing US retail natural gas sector, Chevron Texaco owns 100% of Dynegy, while Exxon Mobil owns 40% of Duke Energy. Both were key players in the natural gas spikes that battered the economy of California in 2000, leading to the bankruptcy of that state’s main utility provider, Pacific Gas & Electric. Exxon Mobil has extensive interests in power generation facilities around the world, including full ownership of China Light & Power.

During the 1970s, Big Oil invested $2.4 billion in uranium exploration. Today they control over half the world’s uranium reserves—key to fueling nuclear power plants. Chevron Texaco and Shell developed a joint venture to build nuclear reactors, a job historically given over to Bechtel.

Exxon Mobil is the leading coal producer in the US and has the second largest coal reserves. RD/Shell owns coal mines in Wyoming (ENCOAL Corp.) and West Virginia (Evergreen Mining). Seven of the top fifteen coal producers are oil companies. Shell and Exxon Mobil are hastily buying up even more coal reserves. These activities are not limited to the US. In Columbia, Exxon Mobil owns large coal mines, BP Amoco owns vast oil fields, and the oil giants control all of the country’s plentiful nonrenewable resources. In 1990, Exxon Mobil imported 16% of its US supply of crude from non-OPEC Columbia. Despite downstream activities by Big Oil, 80% of US oil reserves are still controlled by the nine biggest companies.

The Four Horsemen have invested heavily in other mining ventures as well. RD/Shell holds long term contracts with several Third World governments in supplying tin through its Billiton subsidiary, which is also Indonesia’s largest gold processor. Shell recently began investing heavily in the aluminum industry, and Shell Canada is that country’s top sulphur producer. Shell also owns timber interests in Chile, New Zealand, Congo and Uruguay, and controls a vast flower industry, with farms in Chile, Mauritius, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Shell has a cozy relationship with the world’s two largest mining companies, Rio Tinto Zinc and Anglo-American, and with the Bank of England, all three of which are controlled by the Rothschilds and Oppenheimers. Anglo-American owns De Beers, which enjoys a virtual monopoly on the world’s diamond trade, as well as Engelhardt, which monopolizes the refining of gold.

BP Amoco, through its ARCO subsidiary, has become one of the world’s top six producers of bauxite, from which aluminum is derived. It has mines in Jamaica and other Caribbean nations. Chevron Texaco controls over 20% of the huge AMAX mining group, the leading producer of tungsten in the US, with extensive holdings in South Africa and Australia. Exxon Mobil owns the mining companies Superior Oil and Falconbridge Mining, Canada’s largest producer of platinum and nickel. Exxon also owns Hecla Mining, one of the world’s top copper and silver producers, and Carter Mining, one of the top five producers of phosphates in the world, with mines in Morocco and Florida. Phosphates are needed to process uranium, and phosphoric acid is key to the production of petrochemicals.

The Jockeys

As a result of the deregulation craze in the US, companies no longer have to report their top shareholders on 10K reports to the SEC. According to 1993 10K reports filed by the Four Horsemen, the Rothschild, Rockefeller and Warburg banking conglomerates and European royals still control Big Oil. The Rockefellers exert control through New York mega-banks and Banker’s Trust, which in 1999 was purchased by the Warburg-controlled Deutsche Bank in that behemoth’s bid to become the largest bank in the world.

As of 1993, Banker’s Trust was the #1 shareholder in Exxon. Chemical Bank was #4 and J. P. Morgan was #5. Both are now part of JP Morgan Chase. Banker’s Trust was also the leading shareholder at Mobil. BP listed Morgan Guaranty as its biggest owner in 1993, while Amoco listed Banker’s Trust as its #2 shareholder. Chevron listed Banker’s Trust as its #5 shareholder, while Texaco listed J. P. Morgan as its #4 owner and Banker’s Trust as #9.

Thus, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase, the banks of Warburg and Rockefeller, have increased their shares in Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco and Chevron Texaco. Rothschild-controlled Bank of America and Wells Fargo exert West Coast control over Big Oil, while Mellon Bank also remains a big player. Wells Fargo and Mellon Bank were both top ten shareholders of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and BP Amoco as of 1993. Britain’s House of Windsor also controls a large stake in BP Amoco, while the Kuwaiti al-Sabah monarchy owns a 9.5% stake.

Information on RD/Shell is harder to obtain since they are registered in the UK and Holland and were never required to file 10K reports. RD/Shell is the heaviest of the Horsemen. It is 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum of Holland and 40% owned by Shell Trading & Transport of the UK. The company has only 14,000 stockholders and few directors. The consensus from researchers is that RD/Shell is still controlled by the Rothschild, Oppenheimer, Nobel and Samuel families, along with the British House of Windsor and the Dutch House of Orange. Queen Juliana of the Dutch House of Orange and Lord Victor Rothschild are said to be the two largest shareholders.

In 1972, when Sen. Lee Metcalf (D-MT), who was heading an investigation into monopolistic practices in the oil industry, tried to get a list of RD/Shell’s top 30 stockholders, the company simply refused to give him the information. As 2000/2004 Green Party presidential nominee, Ralph Nader, once said in testimony before the US Senate, “We know more in public about the CIA and NSA than is known about the internal workings of Standard Oil.”

What we do know is that the same Four Horsemen who rode to power on the crest of the oil boom of the late 19th century are now even more firmly in control of an increasingly oil-dependent world economy than they were a hundred years ago, and the same Illuminati old money families, always eager to feast at the public trough via permanent war, are still riding high in the saddle.


Barnet, Richard and Ronald Muller. Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations. Simon & Schuster. New York. 1974

Blair, John. The Control of Oil. Pantheon Books. New York. 1976

Engler, Robert. The Brotherhood of Oil. U. of Chicago Press. Chicago. 1977

Griffin, Des. Fourth Reich of the Rich. Emissary Publications. Pasadena, CA. 1978

Hougan, Jim. Spooks: The Haunting of America – the Private Use of Secret Agents. William Morrow & Company, Inc. New York. 1978

Icke, David. The Robot’s Rebellion: The Story of the Spiritual Renaissance. Gateway Books. Bath, UK. 1994

Kubursi, Atif. Oil, Industrialization and Development in the Arab Gulf States. Croom Helm. Kent, U.K. 1984

Marrs, Jim. Rule of Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids. HarperCollins. New York. 2000

Mikesell, Raymond. Foreign Investment in the Petroleum and Mineral Industries. The John’s Hopkins Press. Baltimore, MD. 1971

Mintz, Morton and Jerry S. Cohen. Power, Inc. Viking Press. New York. 1976

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Sampson, Anthony. The Seven Sisters: The Great Oil Companies and the World They Made. Viking Press. New York. 1975

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Reports and News Articles

10K filings to SEC. Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco. 3-28-01

Annual Report. The Shell Transport & Trading Company, p.l.c. 1991.

Annual Report. “History of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies.” 1992

“A New Rush into Latin America.” New York Times. 4-11-93

“A Reporter at Large: The World’s Resources.” Barnet, Richard. The New Yorker. Parts I-III

“Arabian Might.” The Economist. 12-24-88

BBC World News. 11/2001, 3/24/1997.

“BP Accused of Spiking West Coast Gas Prices.” The Oregonian. 1-6-01

“Cartel Politics in Columbia: Interview with Pedro Galinda.” Multinational Monitor. December 1990

“Energy Blues and Oil.” Brian Tokar. Z Magazine. January 1991

“Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Conoco and Hess Report Whopping Earnings.” National Petroleum News. June 1991

“Fewer Deals, Less Investment.” Forbes. 7-20-92

“Fire Sale.” Forbes. 10-24-94

“Gunpowder Started DuPont Dynasty.” USA Today. 1-29-96

“Lecture John Ross.” War and Peace Report. Free Speech TV. Boulder, CO. 1-1-02

“Meet the New World Order.” Left Business Observer. 1-26-91

“OPEC Annual Report” OPEC General Secretariat. Vienna, Austria. 1989

“Saudi Arabian Oil Co.” The Oil & Gas Journal. 8-16-93

“Saudis Embark on All Points Downstream Strategy.” Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. 12-24-90

“Scorecards on the Oil Giants.” Fortune. 9-10-90

“Shell Sued over Nigerian Hangings.” AP. Missoulian. 11-9-96

© 2005 Dean Henderson is the author of a 450-page book titled Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families and Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, which started as a 1991 Master’s thesis and is based on twelve years of research.  Big Oil is self-published and may be purchased by check or money order for $29.90, payable to Dean Henderson, 1706 Diane St., Papillion, NE 68046.