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Haltermann Carless History

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A story of discovery

Today, Haltermann Carless is a leading international supplier of hydrocarbon-based speciality products and solvents serving customers around the world. Our story originates from two of the oldest chemical companies in the world and combines the minds of two extraordinary individuals, Johann Haltermann and Eugene Carless.

With 160 years of pioneering innovative hydrocarbon-based specialty products and solvents, the Haltermann Carless brand has become the global quality standard for the industry and a trusted partner for businesses across industries in more than 90 countries.

Haltermann Carless has a long history in refining which dates back to 1859 when Eugene Carless established the company "Carless, Capel & Leonard" and later developed a new volatile substance which was sold under the name “petrol”. Petrochem UK acquired Carless in 2000 forming the company Petrochem Carless, which was later acquired by HCS Group in 2013.

Meanwhile in Germany, the "Johann Haltermann Mineralöl AG" was founded in 1898 in the harbour of Hamburg and subsequently went on to produce gasoline and pioneer the rapid development of hydrocarbon specialties. Dow Chemical acquired the Haltermann company in 2003, which was then later acquired by H.I.G. Capital in 2011 laying the foundations of the new Holding company, HCS Group.

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History and Stories

For our 160 Years Haltermann Carless anniversary we have put together stories from several decades. Stories about our products, historical developments and the creative minds of our forefathers.

Click on the 160-years logo or the "read more" button to experience the Haltermann Carless brand - from 1859 to today.

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History in chronological order

To find out more about the history of Carless (marked in red), Haltermann (marked in green) and Haltermann Carless (marked in blue), please view the timeline below.


Acquisition of HCS Group

HCS Group – including the brands Haltermann Carless, ETS Racing Fuels and Electrical Oil Services (EOS) – has been successfully acquired by the International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG), a privately owned industrial group. Within ICIG, HCS Group will form the basis for a new strategic business platform.


The new hydrogenation plant at the German Speyer site has been in operation since the beginning of 2022. Haltermann Carless' largest investment since becoming part of the HCS Group will enable the development of sustainable products, more efficient production techniques, and further growth in key business areas.


Haltermann Carless receives ISCC EU certification for the Harwich, UK, production site, which enables the company to provide certified renewable fuels to the automotive and motorsport industry. 

The two production sites in Germany - Hamburg and Speyer - receive ISCC PLUS certification allowing to supply a wide range of bio-based and mass-balanced products.



Establishment of Sustainability team

How can we grow and expand sustainably in the future? This question has been addressed by a team of specialists at Haltermann Carless since October 2021. The Corporate Development & Sustainability business service unit works closely with all functions of the company and identifies topics that add value to the sustainability strategy.


In February 2019 HCS Group signs a long-term purchase agreement with Gevo Inc., Colorado, USA, on renewable isooctane. The product will be sold under the Haltermann Carless brand and supplied into high-end applications ranging from high purity solvents to specialty fuels.

In January 2019 Haltermann Carless opens a new US head office in Troy, Michigan (Greater Detroit area). The expansion strengthens the company's position to better serve local customers in automotive, industrial, pharmaceutical an agricultural sector. 

Haltermann Carless has been awarded Gold status by EcoVadis under the umbrella of HCS Group and belongs to the Top 5% companies assessed by EcoVadis Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).


Haltermann Carless celebrates 160th anniversary (1859 - 2019). 

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In September 2017, Haltermann Carless Japan G.K. located in Yokohama is established in order to strengthen the performance fuels business in one of the most important automotive markets.

In May 2017 Haltermann Carless sold its HC Fluids business to Solventis Ltd., a distributor of petrochemical solvents and an existing producer of Automotive fluids.
In July 2015 Haltermann Carless acquires Shu-Chem Holdings Inc., a manufacturer of selected alcohols and esters supplying the pharmaceutical and printing industries in Manvel, a city nearby Houston, Texas, USA. With this acquisition, the company is growing its market presence in North-America and continuing its systematic international expansion.

Demand for Pentanes and tailor-made Pentane formulations continued to rise due to the move away from materials that contain CFCs or HFCs; Haltermann becomes the only European manufacturer that provide the three Pentane isomers (n-Pentane, iso-Pentane and Cyclopentane) in a refinery.


Haltermann in collaboration with Clariant’s sunliquid and Mercedes-Benz cars successfully road tested a 2nd generation biofuel.

Strong growth was developed in the field of environmentally friendly propellants (pentanes) in America; A new chemicals and logistics park with a wide range of services was commissioned in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.

50th anniversary of Harwich refinery; The increase in production volume from an initial 14,000 tons to over 150,000 tons illustrated the strong growth of the refinery.


On 15th April Haltermann Holding GmbH took over the total shares of the British competitor Petrochem Carless Holdings Limited (PCL), both companies continued to operate under the umbrella of the newly founded HCS Group as independent brands.

Acquired by Haltermann Holding GmbH on 15 April, both companies operated as independent brands under the umbrella of the newly founded HCS Group.


Investment was made in advanced process engineering equipment for the modernisation of existing facilities; The capacity of production for hydrocarbon-based solvents was increased.


The process furnaces were converted from liquid fuel to gas fuel, which required a new gas heating network for the entire refinery and new air vent compressors.


Haltermann was acquired on 16th July by HIG Europe, an affiliate of HIG Capital and operated from November as an independent company, Haltermann Holding GmbH.

A distillation unit for the recovery of naphtha from the refinery off-gas was constructed.


Dow Chemical divests Haltermann NA; Monument Chemical acquires Haltermann, USA (Custom Processing and Test & Reference Fuels) and later Haltermann, Belgium.


Further diversification of the feedstocks and continuous process optimisation gave the flexibility to produce specific condensates; New facilities bought from companies or newly constructed gradually expanded PCL (e.g. thin-film evaporator).


A management buyout left the company name unchanged; A return to profitability and growth was achieved through bottleneck expansion and the opening of new development opportunities in Harwich.


Haltermann was acquired by the global US chemical company Dow Chemical Company on 1st June from Ascot plc.


Ascot plc acquires “Specified Fuels & Chemicals” in the US, a fuel manufacturer and custom processing company which then became part of the Haltermann Group.

Repsol sold Carless to Petrochem, a European oil trader; together they formed Petrolchem Carless Ltd. (PCL) which had a focus on petrochemicals and special hydrocarbons.


Analytical laboratories became equipped with the latest computer technology for quality assurance and product development; Modern logistics facilities ensured the highest service to provide different hydrocarbons and solvents, as well as customer-specific product adjustments.


The Haltermann family exited from ownership and sold to the British investment company Ascot plc.


Changing raw material qualities due to the development of new gas fields required the optimisation of continuous distillation processes for processing of condensates with a higher proportion of light hydrocarbons.


The portfolio of products which was produced from renewable raw materials was expanded (eg ester oils)

A new plant for mixing special fuels for the production of reference, calibration and racing fuels was constructed.


Research activities in the technical centre at Wilhelmsburg focused on new separation processes using membrane technology, special extraction and adsorption processes, as well reactive methods such as esterification, hydrolysis, hydrogenation, isomerisation or alkylation


On 1st January Haltermann became the holding company for all German and foreign subsidiaries.

A further distillation unit with a broad range of fractions (30 ° C to 350 ° C) went into operation; Processing of different raw materials (condensates, gas oils, dewaxed vacuum gas oil) became possible.


Carless was taken over by the Spanish oil company Repsol YPF, S.A. and became as ‘Carless Refining and Marketing’ a wholly owned subsidiary of Repsol.


A new method of production using the esterification reaction is used for the first time in Houston, and later in Antwerp, for the processes of separation, distillation, extraction and crystallisation.

The market situation became difficult despite falling oil prices; Harwich refinery began working at full capacity; Flexible process distillation units allowed the optimal use of raw materials to be delivered, which significantly reduced storage costs.


To grow as a corporation, Carless acquired a number of companies and entered into oil production; The company developed relationships among the market leaders BP, Britoil, Petrofina, Shell and Esso.


The product range was enhanced by the addition of high-viscosity naphthenic oils for use in the manufacture of printing inks and synthetic resins.

Carless boasted three batch distillation plants and a continuous production 3-column distillation plant, which could flexibly process a variety of raw material qualities and quantities; Carless concluded an agreement with Johann Haltermann GmbH for the joint marketing of their products in America.


The plant for tar distillation in Wilhelmsburg was decommissed; White spirit production was installed at Speyer.

A contract to build an aromatics extraction unit was made. This was used for extracting aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, methyl or ethyl benzene, which would be used for fuels, high molecular weight aromatic solvents and other new products.


The fourth production facility in Houston/USA was inaugurated.


The latest measurement and control technology (computer and microprocessor technology) for controlling the equipment was installed in a central control room.


A process for liquid / liquid extraction was developed for the production aromatic-free solvents and printing ink oils and a large-scale production plant was constructed

Haltermann manufactured non-toxic and odourless paraffinic solvents; Haltermann became a manufacturer of reference fuels (ERFs) in Europe


The subsidiaries Carless Solvents and Carless Petroleum which marketed its finished products were founded; Carless took a stake in the oil / gas fields in Humbly Grove and Wytch Farm.


A contract was made for a third distillation unit with separate steam generation; A fourth distillation unit was constructed from parts of the dismantled Hackney Wick plant.


Haltermann separated from the asphalt business areas, shipping companies as well as the service stations in northern Germany, in order to concentrate on its core business; A third production site in Antwerp was opened which continued to grow despite oil crisis.

Carless, Capel and Leonard became a corporation.


Haltermann was certified by ASTM as the sole producer of high purity n-heptane and iso-octanes (reference fuels for determining the octane number); The pilot plant in Wilhelmsburg was commissioned, with modern computer simulated distillation processes.


Cooperation with resin manufacturers brought about breakthroughs in the area of printing ink oils.

The boom of natural gas production in the North Sea lead to entry into the processing of gas condensates; The second distillation unit was commissioned.


Production capacity and handling facilities in Speyer were expanded due to new emerging markets, such as Switzerland and France


Production facilities in Speyer were officially commissioned on 25 July; Modern technologies such as valve trays and air-cooled condensation were used as well as a biological treatment plant.


The refinery was completed and first batch produced hydrocarbon-based solvents were manufactured; The transfer of the entire production from Hackney Wick to Harwich was started, which would take 9 years to complete.


The first distillation unit and a tank farm were constructed.


A plant for crystallisation was constructed; Haltermann started the production of special solvents for printing inks, which were previously imported.


A plant for the production of road gravel using tar based binders in Wilhelmsburg was constructed.


The industry change from coal carbonisation to petroleum feedstock refining had the following consequences for Carless: by-products from the carbonisation of coal could no longer used as raw materials for further processing; Carless decided to build its own refinery, so that it was not dependent on deliveries of raw materials; Harwich was chosen as the new location as the premises at Hackney Wick were too small.


Industrial growth in southern Germany required the construction of tank and drum stores along the Rhine.


Environmental costs emerged as a cost for the first time in the company’s balance sheet; A mechanical / biological treatment plant in Wilhelmsburg was constructed.


Production capacity was increased and production costs were reduced by a switch in production from special boiling points to continuous distillation; Aliphatic propellant gas was developed for foaming of plastics


The tanker fleet was expanded as a result of rising exports of American petrochemical industry to Europe.

A stronger focus was given to the production of speciality chemicals, due to the decline in fuel sales of Shell-Mex and BP as well as the reduced production of aromatic hydrocarbons from coal tar.


Distillation units for benzene and tar acids were expanded, Equipment for the continuous refining of petroleum distillates were constructed.


Company management focused on expanding the special products because the fuel market was dominated by large multinational companies.


Production of naphthalene resumed and there were investments in equipment for the extraction of phenol, cresol and xylenol from tar acids.


Under British occupation, the plants were gradually reconstructed and production resumed. Additionally, the plant was able to process tar residues from the carbonisation of coal to produce fuels, solvents or fuel oils.


The world economy started to recover. Carless became a producer of xylene, required for the manufacture of synthetic alkyd resin for the paint industry. The focus shifted to the provision of products with specific requirements for density, boiling point, volatility etc.


Production was hardly interrupted during the war despite repeated air strikes, however towards the end of the war the production plant was largely destroyed by bombing at the port of Hamburg.


The company became a major producer of test and industrial fuels as well as nitrotoluene; Solvents for printing inks were developed and manufactured; Plants and laboratories were destroyed by bombing.


Haltermann took over the company’s shares belonging to RĂŒtgerswerke and became Hanseatischen Teer- und Erdölindustrie Haltermann & Co. GmbH; Additional local tanks and barrels were constructed for effective storage of specialised high-boiling solvents and white spirit.


Haltermann intensified exports of naphthalene, tar acids, anthracene and asphalt, as well as increasing sales of aliphatic and aromatic solvents.


A low-smoke fuel called Coalite, produced by low temperature carbonisation, was used by Carless to produce motor fuels suitable for aircrafts.


Haltermann signed a contract with EBANO (later sold to ESSO) to process crude benzene derived from bituminous crude oil, which was the entry into the provision of customised product formulations.


The plant for the production of aliphatic solvents and white spirit was constructed; Production of aromatic solvents was increased, which had begun before the First World War.


The distillation of coal tar napthas was increased to produce solvents for printing inks.


The Johann Haltermann tank shipping company was founded which was used for the transportation of raw materials and finished products and the first tankers were purchased; The Haltermann Logo was formed: an H in a hexagon, which symbolised the abstract symbol for benzene.


Haltermann plants survived the First World War unscathed, although output was reduced


Hanseatischen Teerproduktenfabrik Haltermann & Co. GmbH and RĂŒtgerswerke AG were founded.


Distillation and refining plants were constructed for the production of technical benzenes from coal tar; The product range was expanded to gasoline and other petroleum products, such as Petroleum (oil lamp); The separation of toluene and xylene distillates were supplied into the paint, varnish and adhesive industries.

The company expanded through the acquisition of W.C. Barnes & Co., who specialised in the distillation coal tar products and petroleum ether,  which had increased demand due to the outbreak of World War 1.


Carless was the only manufacturer of high-purity motor fuels in England.


Johann Haltermann founded in Hamburg Wilhelmsburg a “Tar Distillery”, refining crude tar from the gas works in Hamburg.


Product sales were increasingly tied to the automotive industry; A new fuel was delivered for the new motoring event “Emancipation Run” (emancipation of the car as a new means of transport).


Diesel fuel for the launch of Daimler was called ‘Petrol’; The  name ‘Petrol’ as a brand could not be protected.


Carless, Capel and Leonard was established with a new business partner John Hare Leonard.


The Blagdon partnership ended; George Bligh Capel became a new partner; Carless begun selling a highly flammable petroleum distillate, called ‘Petrol’; Carless became one of the first processors in England of the newly imported American crude oil; Progress was made in the refining of coal tar and shale material supplying the market with benzoline, paraffin oil, burning naphtha and Carburine (coal tar oil).


William George Blagdon and Carless joined in partnership becoming Carless, Blagdon and Company.


Eugene Carless based in Hackney Wick in East London established the company Carless and built the plant ‘Hope Chemical Works’.