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Today, Shell is the petroleum retail market leader in Malaysia, catering to one-third of Peninsular Malaysia and half of Sabah and Sarawak’s market requirements.  Under production sharing contracts with Petronas, Shell is the largest natural gas producer in Malaysia.

Shell's story is also one of a series of firsts. It pioneered the transportation of kerosene to the Far East, it discovered Malaysia's first oil well in 1910; it built Malaysia's first refinery in Miri in 1914, and Peninsular Malaysia's first refinery in Port Dickson in 1963. In the late 50s, it was the first to take oil exploration offshore and discovered oil and gas in Sarawak, and later, Sabah waters.

Birth place of Shell

Petrol station in Malaysia back in history

Malaysia has a special place in the history of Shell worldwide because it was in this region that the company first puts its roots down. Marcus Samuel founded a trading company in London in 1830, and by 1880s, kerosene and fuel oil became major trading items.

The year 1891 marked the commencement of Shell's operations in Malaysia under the name Marcus Samuel & Company. The company set up oil storage deports at various Straits Settlements ports including Butterworth.

By 1897, Marcus Samuel's oil business became so extensive that he formed a separate company to operate it - the Shell Transport and Trading Company.

A series of firsts

Illustration of Orient Explorer, Miri

Malaysia's first oil well was discovered by Shell on Canada Hill in Miri, Sarawak in 1910. Shell's Miri No. 1 was spudded on 10 August that year, and began producing 83 barrels per day in December. Today,  the oil well, fondly known as the Grand Old Lady, is a state monument.

After the discovery of oil in Miri, Shell built Malaysia's first oil refinery in 1914. In the same year, Shell laid a submarine pipeline in Miri, a breakthrough in the technology of transporting crude to tankers at that time. 

In 1960, Orient Explorer, the first mobile drilling rig ever used in Malaysia, arrived in Sarawak waters and began to explore off Baram Point. This eventually led to the discovery of Sarawak's first offshore field, Baram, in 1963.

The discovery of substantial reserves of natural gas offshore Sarawak in the 1960s represented a turning point for Shell. A natural gas liquefaction venture was formed, Malaysia LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) in Bintulu. The abundance of gas also prompted the establishment of the world's first commercial middle distillate synthesis plant in Bintulu in 1993.


The Bintulu plant became the basis for the Pearl GTL (gas to liquids) project in Qatar, launched in 2006. Set to be the world’s largest plant, Pearl GTL will convert natural gas into 140,000 barrels per day of clean-burning liquid transport fuel and other products. The project will also produce 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of natural gas liquids and ethane.

Learn more about Pearl GTL.