Marathon Oil Corporation, based in Houston, Texas, is a worldwide oil and natural gas exploration and production company. Principal exploration activities are in the United States, Norway, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Canada. Principal development activities are in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.
In addition, Marathon operates other businesses that market and transport its own and third-party natural gas, crude oil and products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas and methanol, primarily in the United States, Europe and West Africa.
Marathon began as The Ohio Oil Company in 1887. In 1889, it was purchased by John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil trust. It remained a part of Standard Oil until the trust was broken in 1911. In 1930, The Ohio bought the Transcontinental Oil Company, giving it the Marathon brand name. In 1962, the company changed its name to "Marathon Oil Company" after its main brand name. Mobil wanted to buy the company in 1981. The residents of Findlay, Ohio, the corporation's home town, worried that the Findlay jobs would be lost so Marathon looked for a white knight. They found one in 1982 when United States Steel bought the company. The headquarters moved to Houston in 1990 but the company maintains downstream operations in Findlay. In 2001, USX, the holding company that owned United States Steel and Marathon, spun off the steel business and in 2002 USX renamed itself Marathon Oil Corporation.
In 1998, Marathon and Ashland, Inc., formed Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC to refine, market and transport crude oil and petroleum products, primarily in the Midwest, the upper Great Plains and southeastern United States. Marathon now owns 100% of the venture with its purchase of Ashland's share on June 30, 2005.
In 2003, Marathon sold off its Canadian operations to Calgary-based Husky Energy, which is owned in part by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing.
In late 2003, Marathon Oil and partners (Noble Energy, AMPCO) started the Bioko Island Malaria Control Project (BIMCP) in Equatorial Guinea. Malaria control activities included indoor residual spraying, improved diagnosis and case management, and capacity building to contain future outbreaks. As of late 2005, BIMCP had proven being successful in reducing malaria transmission, reducing the proportion of children with malaria parasites, and improving iron status. BIMCP is perceived as a model of hands-on corporate involvement in a humanitarian effort with government, non-profits and academic organizations to reduce the burden of malaria in countries located in Equatorial Africa. Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang Nguema is one of the world's worst dictators (Parade Magazine). Marathon's humitarian efforts have mitigated much criticism casued through their dealings from with the corrupt and brutal regime.
In 2006, Marathon began using STP-branded additives in its gasoline, likely to compete with Chevron's popular Techron additive.
Marathon maintains refineries in Robinson, Illinois; Canton, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Garyville, Louisiana; Catlettsburg, Kentucky; Texas City, Texas and St. Paul Park, Minnesota.