Gulf Oil was born in 1901 with an oil discovery in Spindletop, Texas. It was founded by William Larimer Mellon of the Pennsylvania Mellon's. Gulf Oil grew over time, and its innovations include the first drive-in service station, complimentary road maps and drilling over-water at Ferry Lake. It had extensive exploration operations in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.
Its undoing as an independent company began in 1982 when T. Boone Pickens a Texas oilman and corporate raider (or greenmailer), and owner of Mesa Petroleum made an offer for the much larger Cities Service Company from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Gulf offered to be a white knight and take over Cities Service (more generally known by the name Citgo) to keep them out of the clutches of Mesa. Cities Service was ultimately sold to Occidental Petroleum, and the retail operations were resold to Southland Corporation, the operators of 7-Eleven stores.
Mesa later turned on Gulf, and acquired 11% of the company. Gulf turned to Standard Oil of California (better known as Chevron) to act as their white knight in 1984. To settle with the government antitrust requirements, they sold some Gulf stations and a refinery in the eastern United States to British Petroleum (BP) and Cumberland Farms in 1985. Confusion arose as both BP and Chevron continued to use the Gulf name through the early 1990s, but would not accept each others' credit cards. All Gulf stations franchised by BP and Chevron have since been converted to those names; the only remaining instance of the Gulf name isused by Cumberland Farms, a convenience store operator in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states.