Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Elf, Saint-Aubin-de-Blaye

In 1966 three French public companies involved in the exploration, production and distribution phases of the petrol business, the Régie Autonome des Pétroles, the Société Nationale des Pétroles d'Aquitaine, and the Bureau de Recherches de Pétroles merged and formed the Entreprise de Recherches et d'Activités Pétrolières (ERAP). However the new company became rapidly better known as Elf, after the brand that appeared throughout France on 27 April 1967.

The Elf brand was the result of a five-year long process that aimed at bringing under one banner the different networks of petrol stations controlled by the Union Générale de Distribution, a subsidiary of ERAP originally created in 1960, as well as the company's wide range of products. This major project was kept secret until the directors of ERAP gave a press conference on 27 April 1967 at 18:00. Within a few hours, 4,500 petrol stations were rebranded, staff uniforms changed and products renamed. The next morning the Elf logo, a stylized representation of the drill bit used in oil wells with colours reminiscent of the French flag, was everywhere to be seen.

One of the networks that disappeared in the process was Caltex, a subsidiary originally of California Texas Oil Company (a joint venture between the Texas Company -now Texaco- and Standard Oil of California -now Chevron) that had been acquired by the UGD.

The fact that this ghost sign includes a reference to the Caltex network would suggest it was painted shortly after the Elf brand was launched. The Elf logo is in its original colours, petrol blue, white and red. In 1985 the petrol blue colour was replaced by a cobalt blue, believed to be dynamic.

Relai Caltex

Location: D 137, Saint-Aubin-de-Blaye, Gironde / Pictures taken in May 2012

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