For seven years, William D'Arcy drilled well after well in Persia, now known as Iran, looking for oil. With his funding running low, and his employers getting quite impatient, D'Arcy drilled one last well and hit a gusher on May 26, 1908. The rest is history.

Six years after the discovery of the vast Middle Eastern oilfields, D'Arcy and the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. almost went out of business. They literally had oceans of precious oil and, by then, a pipeline to remove it from its remote resting place. What they did not have, ironically, were customers. Cars were the toys of the wealthy, ships mostly ran on coal and so did electrical plants. Winston Churchill, however, saw the benefits of running his navy on oil and soon had World War I to fight. Black gold quickly became one of the world's most coveted resources.

Years later, the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. bought the government-seized assets of a German firm that sold oil in Britain before the war. That company was called British Petroleum, a name adopted later by Anglo-Persian and shortened to BP in 2000.

[Source: BP via Wired]