Petrol Company Road Maps from Finland

Finland flag

1939 Finnish Automobile Club mapFinland's downstream oil industry has often been balanced between Western, Russian and co-operative interests. Early players included Standard Oil (using the Nobelin and later Rekord brands) and Shell, along with Russia's Nafta, which sold to Gulf in 1937. They were joined by Bensiinin-Kuluttajain (using the BK brand) and another Russian-owned firm, Trustivapaa Bensiini, which used the TB name in the 1930s. After the war, two other names appeared: Petko (acquired by BP in 1960) and Kesoil, while BK was rebranded as Union in 1953. However most crude oil came from the Soviet Union and was refined by the Government-controlled Neste. Joined by E-Ölje in the 1960s, the first consolidation took place in the 1970s with Gulf selling out to E-Ölje, and E, Union and Kesoil all coming under the control of Neste. Around 1980 BP sold in stages to Union. After 1991 E and Union were switched to the new Neste brand, which was combined in the late 1990s with Kesoil. Unmanned stations were branded A24, possibly to prevent Neste appearing too dominant as it had around a third of the market.

SEO started operations in 1978 as the only true independent name, although it was later joined by ABC, St1 and the US-owned Jet chain, later sold to Russia's Lukoil,. ABC and ST1 jointly acquired Esso's outlets in December 2006 and St1 Shell's operation in 2010. The market continues to be split between automated discount stations, and larger full-service sites usually incorporating a cafe or restaurant.


No maps issued by individual oil companies are known from before the Second World War. The map shown (above right) was given away jointly by the Suomen Automobiili Klubi (Finnish Automobile Club) and Yleinen Autoliitto (Suomi Touring Club) in 1939. It is also described as being published in co-operation with Oy Vacuum Oil Company AB, Nobel Standard (Esso) and Oy Shell AB. Vacuum only sold Mobiloil lubricants in Finland, and not motor spirit, but the map notes (in four languages) There are Shell and Esso service stations in every more important place. Prepared by Werner Söderström of Porvoo at 1:1,500,000 it is fascinating for showing the country before the Soviet annexation of Karelia and other territories. The reverse side has small town plans for 49 cities, including one for Helsinki that clearly marks the Olympic villages and training place. Of course, the Olympics were not held in 1940, and these facilities had to wait until 1952 for use...

1952 Esso map of Finland 1957 Esso map of Finland 1957 Gulf map of Finland 1964 Shell map of Finland 1964 BP map of Finland 1974 Kesoil map of Finland
...and indeed in 1952, the Olympic facilities featured on the cover of an Esso map. As elsewhere in Europe, Esso issued scenic cover maps through the 1950s, including the second example shown from 1957. Both were drawn for Esso by Maanmittaushallitus (the Finnish National Survey) at a scale of 1:1,500,000, although the older map does not use General Drafting Co designs and has 50 small town plans on the reverse. (An earlier, 1949 Esso map is shown in the Esso section.)
Gulf was a regular map issuer in the 1950s and 60s, and is represented above by a 1957 issue.
Shell and BP also issued maps of the country, and the two examples here both date from 1964. The Shell issue, although carrying a typical international cover design, was a wholly local production inside with a map at 1:1,000,000 by Maanmittaushallitus. This marked all Shell stations and also featured humorous colour sketches of Finnish scenes at the top of each side, including the Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki, a sauna and Lapps with reindeer.
In contrast, BP's map was printed by George Philip & Son in London at the much smaller scale of 1:2,500,000 as part of a series for its Touring Service.
As might be expected from a Finnish company, the 1974 Kesoil issue also used Maanmittaushallitus cartography - at the intermediate scale of 1:1,500,000 - and marked all Kesoil filling stations. The domestic brand Union also issued maps of Finland in the 1960s and 70s.
Gulf image courtesy of Juha Tuulaniemi

1976 Shell map of Finland By the mid-1970s, Shell was also using an overseas touring service - with cartography by Mairs of Stuttgart at 1:1,500,000, and no longer locating Shell stations.
In contrast, Esso's 1983 map is locally produced, showing a typical large Esso station (with cafeteria) on its cover and designed for sale; it is at the generous scale of 1:800,000. Shell's 1984 map was probably for free issue as it marks and lists all its filling stations and is at the smaller scale of 1:1.5mn. Maanmittaushallitus provided the cartography for both these maps.
1983 Esso map of Finland 1984 Shell map of Finland

1996 Shell map booklet of Finland 1997 Esso map booklet of Finland 1998 Teboil map booklet of Finland 2001 Seo map of Finland 2001 Jet map of Scandinavia
By the late 1990s most firms had stopped selling branded maps, although several were giving away small booklet maps marking their stations, with good quality cartography by Karttakeskus at 1:2,000,000. The first three maps all fit this pattern - Shell from 1996, Esso 1997 and Teboil 1998. The Shell and Esso examples both have 10 pages of maps, with two more in the Teboil, although more recent Shell issues have extended the number of maps and slightly increased the format. All booklets also provide full service station lists, identifying facilities available for motorists.
The Seo and Jet maps are both conventional folding maps issued in 2001, but apart from both marking and listing their filling stations, they are very different. Seo's map comes from Folia of Denmark and uses their QuickMap system to dissect it into manageable sections covering all of Finland at 1:1,000,000. Jet's was prepared by Sweden's Kartcentrum and covers all four Nordic Countries at around 1:2,100,000. It also includes small plans for each of the towns with a Jet station - 18 in the case of Finland, a market that Jet only entered as recently as 1993.

In the 1990s a new brand was introduced by the Greeni group, St1. This grew rapidly, mainly through unmanned locations, and in 2000 was joined by ABC, controlled by the SOK cooperative group which had for many years owned service stations, often selling Esso. This led to major changes of ownership among the Finnish chains in the 2000s, with all the Western majors selling out. The first move was for Russia's Lukoil to buy out the former Russian state interests in Teboil in 2005; unusually Lukoil has retained the existing name. In the following year ConocoPhillips' Jet chain was also sold to Lukoil and switched to Teboil colours. Later in 2006 Esso sold its chain in a complex transaction which led to its stations being divided between ABC and St1. Finally in 2010, Shell also sold out to St1, but the new owner retained the rights to use the Shell brand on their existing network. Meanwhile, Neste had experimented with the NEX brand to replace A24, before consolidating on a single new Neste Oil identity on all its sites, manned or otherwise and the Gulf name reappeared in a very small way on independent stations, understood to be supplied through SEO.
2010 St1 Truckstation locator

The new brands do not appear to have produced conventional folding maps, although they have occasionally produced locator booklets. The St1 booklet (left) dates from 2010 and is reversible: the side shown here is to locate their "Truckstation" network; the other side (shown on the Finnish independents page) is for car drivers. The 48 page booklet includes 10 pages of moderately useful maps by Harvest MVA Oy.
In contrast the 2012-3 ABC booklet devotes most of its 80 pages to detailed half page descriptions of its main service stations, and has a single fold out map that extends to just 350x200mm and is of limited use other than for basic route planning, despite being drawn by Karttakeskus.

2012-3 ABC station locator booklet

As Finland is neither a major tourist or business destination (although I can vouch that it is an excellent country to visit), old maps of the country turn up only rarely in the UK, and only around 0.25% of my collection are from Finland. There are a couple of extra Esso maps shown on this site, together with a map from Neste covering the area from St Petersburg to Warsaw.
Please send me an e-mail if you can tell me more or especially if you have any maps from BK, E, Nobelin, Petko or Rekord that I can add to this site!

Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2002-13

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.