industry pioneer swearingen dies

Former president of Standard Oil was 89.

John E. Swearingen, oil executive and well-known defender of the industry in the energy crisis of the 1970s, died on Friday in Birmingham, Ala. He was 89 and lived in Chicago, according to the New York Times.

Swearingen presided over Standard Oil of Indiana, one of the companies founded after the federal government broke up the Rockefeller oil trust, for 20 years. He took over in 1960 and tackled a problematic regional energy company constantly troubled by low oil and gas reserves, only to transform it into the one of the biggest companies of the business.

On top of finding ways to exponentially cut costs, he also pursued new ventures through subsidiaries like roadside restaurants and car insurance.

“He took this ragtag group of oil companies and built them into a major American oil company,” John Bryan, close friend and former chief executive of Sara Lee told the newspaper.

Standard Oil soon went by the name Amoco merging with BP in 1998 to become BP Amoco, which acquired ARCO in 2000.


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