Oil Barons

The oil industry, better known as the petroleum industry, is one of the major drivers of modern industrial growth and development throughout the world. Petroleum plays a significant role in many industries as it is a major source of fuel oil and petrol. It also provides raw material for various types of chemical industries such as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics, etc. Petroleum industrialists operate units engaged in the exploration, production, transportation, processing and refining of petroleum products. In many countries like the U.S, the government provides heavy subsidies to these industries which make it an attractive option for investors. Even though petroleum in its crude form had been in usage for thousands of years, its demand as an industrial product began increasing only by the 19th century. It was during the 1850’s that oil wells, refineries and drilling units began springing up all over the world. However, petroleum is a non-renewable natural resource which will eventually be depleted after some years. This looming threat of world oil depletion has made scientists from all over the world look for alternative sources of energy for the future. Read on to browse through a list of world famous oil barons and read their biographies and timelines.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani
Famous As: Indian businessman
Birthdate: April 19, 1957
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Aden, Yemen

The richest person in Asia, Mukesh Ambani is an Indian billionaire business magnate. He is the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL). The son legendary Dhirubhai Ambani, he started his career by helping his father build their family business. As of today, he is the only Indian businessman on Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people.

 2 J. Paul Getty

J. Paul Getty
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: December 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: June 6, 1976

As the patriarch of the Getty family, J. Paul Getty was an influential petrol-industrialist who founded the Getty Oil Company. In 1966, Paul made it to the Guinness Book of Records as the world's richest private citizen. An avid collector of antiquities and art, his collection is preserved at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.

 3 Roman Abramovich

Roman Abramovich
Famous As: Owner of Chelsea F.C. Owner of Millhouse Capital Owner of Evraz
Birthdate: October 24, 1966
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saratov, Russia

Roman Abramovich is an Israeli-Russian businessman and politician. Over the years, he has played an influential role as the primary owner of Millhouse LLC and as the owner of the popular Premier League football club Chelsea F.C. Roman Abramovich is one of the richest persons in the world and has donated over US$2.5 billion to various charitable causes between 1999 and 2013.

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 4 Dhirubhai Ambani

Dhirubhai Ambani
Birthdate: December 28, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Junagadh
Died: July 6, 2002

Dhirubhai Ambani was an Indian business tycoon. He is credited with founding Reliance Industries, which is currently the largest company in the country in terms of revenue. Dhirubhai Ambani's life and career inspired the 2007 drama film Guru, in which his character was portrayed by Abhishek Bachchan.

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 5 Armand Hammer

Armand Hammer
Famous As: Business people
Birthdate: May 21, 1898
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 10, 1990

 6 James Drury

James Drury
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 18, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

James Drury was the quintessential tall, dark, and handsome Western hero of Hollywood in the 1950s and the 1960s. he had started his acting career at age 12. Interestingly he graduated in horticulture and animal husbandry. He is best remembered for his role in the NBC series The Virginian.

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 7 Todd Palin

Todd Palin
Famous As: First Gentleman of Alaska (2006-09), Oil Field Production Operator
Birthdate: September 6, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dillingham, Alaska, United States
Oil production operator and commercial salmon fisherman Todd Palin made headlines for his relationship with former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin. Todd and Sarah eloped in high school and were married from 1988 to 2020. Todd is also a snowmobile racer who has won the Tesoro Iron Dog competition multiple times.
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 8 Andrew William Mellon

Andrew William Mellon
Famous As: Industrialist, Philanthropist
Birthdate: March 24, 1855
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 27, 1937

The son of wealthy Pittsburgh banker Thomas Mellon, Andrew William Mellon had followed in his father’s footsteps, to be a banker. He had also been the American ambassador to the U.K. and the American secretary of the treasury. He owned companies such as Alcoa, Old Overholt whiskey, and Gulf Oil.

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 9 William Rockefeller

William Rockefeller
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: May 31, 1841
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Richford, New York
Died: June 24, 1922

Part of the famous Rockefeller family of bankers and industrialists, William Rockefeller played a major role in the development of the Standard Oil Company along with his brother John D. Rockefeller. His interests also included copper mining and railways, and he also set up what is now known as Citigroup.

 10 Nelson Bunker Hunt

Nelson Bunker Hunt
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: February 22, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: El Dorado, Arkansas, United States
Died: October 21, 2014

Texan oil magnate Nelson Bunker Hunt is best remembered for his colossal failure in his attempt to manipulate the global silver market by gathering huge amounts of the metal. Government intervention prevented his venture, and he and his brothers were banned from trading and later declared bankruptcy.

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 11 Tony O'Reilly

Tony O'Reilly
Famous As: Rugby Player
Birthdate: May 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Tony O'Reilly excelled in various sports as a child, including football and cricket, but later chose rugby as his career path. Apart from being a famed Irish rugby player, he had also been a successful businessman, heading H.J. Heinz Company as its CEO. A debt issue led him to be declared bankrupt later.

 12 Edwin Drake

Edwin Drake
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: March 29, 1819
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Greenville, New York, United States
Died: November 9, 1880

Edwin Drake, or Colonel Drake, was the first American to drill an oil well successfully. Initially a railroad worker, he later helped develop Titusville and other oil-rich areas of northwestern Pennsylvania into booming oil-drilling zones. His failure to patent his techniques led to his poverty in his final years.

 13 William Knox D'Arcy

William Knox D'Arcy
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: October 11, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newton Abbot, United Kingdom
Died: May 1, 1917

 14 Robert Mosbacher

Robert Mosbacher
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: March 11, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States
Died: January 24, 2010

Robert Mosbacher had initially won many national and international sailing competitions and also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated once. At 21, advised by his father, he launched an oil and gas company. He later ventured into politics and also served as the United States Secretary of Commerce.

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 15 Harry Ford Sinclair

Harry Ford Sinclair
Famous As: Industrialist
Birthdate: July 6, 1876
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wheeling, West Virginia, United States
Died: November 10, 1956

Sinclair Oil Corporation founder Harry Ford Sinclair had followed into his father’s footsteps to become a pharmacist before venturing into the oil industry. Being a sports lover, he financially supported baseball's Federal League and also invested in thoroughbred race horses. He was dragged into the Teapot Dome Scandal, too.

 16 J. Howard Pew

J. Howard Pew
Famous As: Industrialist
Birthdate: January 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bradford, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 1971

J. Howard Pew headed the Sun Oil Company, now known as Sunoco, founded by his father, oil magnate Joseph Newton Pew, Sr. He introduced many innovations in his company and later formed a shipbuilding company with his brother. He and his siblings also formed the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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 17 Robert Orville Anderson

Robert Orville Anderson
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: April 12, 1917
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 2, 2007

Apart from being an oil magnate, Atlantic Richfield founder Robert Orville Anderson was also a prominent art and culture lover. He financially backed organization such as Harper's Magazine and the LA County Museum of Art. He received many honorary degrees and awards and was made a life trustee of Caltech.

 18 J. Hugh Liedtke

J. Hugh Liedtke
Famous As: Entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 10, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Died: March 28, 2003

Oil tycoon J. Hugh Liedtke co-founded Zapata Petroleum Corp. along with his brother William Liedtke and president George H.W. Bush. He later acquired another company and merged it with Zapata to form Pennzoil, and eventually won a 4-year court battle to beat Texaco in the run for Getty Oil.

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 19 Lee Wilder Thomas

Lee Wilder Thomas
Famous As: Businessman
Birthdate: August 15, 1873
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tehuacana, Texas, United States
Died: April 11, 1953

In his early days, Lee Wilder Thomas wished to preach the gospel, but he later concentrated on the oil business of his time. He, along with another African-American oil magnate Jake Simmons, Jr., formed the Simmons Royalty Co. He later developed the town of Summit in Oklahoma.