Shell companies first entered the chemicals industry in 1929, via a partnership in the Netherlands called NV Mekog, which manufactured ammonia from coke-oven gas.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Shell Chemical Company (founded 1929) began the world's first production of ammonia from natural gas in California in 1931. It also started production of chemical solvents from refinery gases in California during the early 1930s while in 1942 it pioneered the production of butadiene, a key raw material for synthetic rubbers.
In 1941, production of Teepol liquid detergent began at Stanlow in the UK, the first manufacture of a petroleum-based organic chemical in Europe.
In the decades that have followed, Shell chemicals companies have played a major part in the growth of the petrochemicals sector and developed some of its key manufacturing processes. In the table below are some of the highlights of that history of innovation.
With a competitive edge in chemical feedstocks, underpinned by a strong product portfolio and proprietary Shell technology, the business is entering a new period of growth.
The table shows the years in which original processes developed by Shell were commercialised. Current Shell Chemicals activities are shown in bold, although the processes that are used today sometimes differ from the original version.