Castrol in South Africa

¬†Castrol was established in South Africa in June 1929 and has served the local automotive and industrial markets for 75 years.¬†Originally known as Wakefield Company after founder Charles Cheers Wakefield, the South African company opened with branches in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, and spread its activities to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1939. Product was imported pre-packed from the United Kingdom. During the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945, the first local blending plant was established. In 1945 a branch was opened in Port Elizabeth. By 1946, South Africa was the third largest of Castrol’s overseas markets after Australia and India. By 1951, the company supplied 60 percent of the lubricant needs of the Witwatersrand gold mines, with a patented Rock Drill oil. In that same year Wakefield Deusol engine oils for diesel engines were introduced in South Africa.

A new blending plant was established at Island View Works in Durban in 1958, with an initial capacity of 500 tones per month. Island View Works was the major manufacturing facility for Castrol South Africa and produced well known automotive lubricants such as GTX.

In 1960 the company changed its name to Castrol South Africa, and in 1966 Castrol was taken over by the Burmah Oil Company. In 1974 the company’s head office moved from Isando to Parktown in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. That same year Castrol acquired Durol Oil, a used oil refining company, enabling the company to conserve its base oil stocks for quality oils. Castrol SA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1979, and produced a petroleum jelly for the pharmaceutical market at Island View Works. In 1990 Castrol installed one of the largest filling lines in South Africa – the Comaco 210-litre drum filling line. A new division, Castrol Africa was created in 1992 to cater for sub-Saharan Africa, and the following year the company introduced a full range of user-friendly chemical cleaners. In 1995 the company introduced the strategic business unit concept in marketing, sales and technical sales support. SLX, a premium quality synthetic 0W30 automotive oil was launched. In January 1999, the most technologically advanced small pack (5 litre and below) filling line in South Africa was commissioned at Island View Works in Durban.

In 2000 Burmah Castrol was taken over by BP Amoco. Following the acquisition, Castrol became BP’s leading lubricants brand, with its products made available through the group’s retail sites and to BP’s automotive, industrial and marine customers around the world. Today, BP and Castrol account for approximately 31 percent of the South African lubricants market.

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