1930s

1933

Oil concession agreement signed

On May 29, an oil concession agreement is signed between Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil Company of California (Socal). On November 8, a subsidiary company, California Arabian Standard Oil Company (Casoc) is created to manage the concession.

1934

First geological survey of Dammam Dome completed

Schuyler B. "Krug" Henry and J.W. "Soak" Hoover complete their survey and structural contour map of the Dammam Dome, the location of the first oil field discovery in Saudi Arabia.

The Bedouin guide Khamis ibn Rimthan helps exploration

Early American geologists rely on Bedouins to guide them from one place to another. The most famous guide is Khamis ibn Rimthan, from the Ujman tribe. His expertise becomes indispensable and his cross-desert navigational talents leave the geologists awestruck.

First plane is used for aerial surveys

A Fairchild 71, specially modified for long-distance flying and aerial photography, arrives in Jubail in 1934. The plane drastically reduces the time it takes to map the concession area which is the size of Louisana and Texas combined. Dick Kerr, the plane's pilot as well as a geologist, helps map the bulk of the concession in 1934 and 1935.

The first Saudi employees hired

Among the first Saudi employees hired is Ahmad Al-Somali. He is one of the best-known early Saudi construction workers and he is also known by the nickname 'Mussolini' because of his flair for speaking Italian.

Building the pier in al-Khobar.

1935

First well drilled

The first test well is drilled at Dhahran into the Dammam Dome.

New pier at al-Khobar

The pier at al-Khobar is built, allowing the delivery of materials and supplies to build the infrastructure needed by the new company. The building of the pier marks one of the company's first major hiring efforts to employ Saudis.

240 Saudis employed at Dhahran camp

Dhahran camp employs more than 240 Saudi nationals on construction and drilling crews.

1936

Texas Co. acquires 50% of the concession

Texas Co. (now Chevron Corporation) acquires a 50% interest in Socal's concession.

1937

Max Steineke crosses Saudi Arabia for the first time

Max Steineke arrives in Saudi Arabia in 1934, and becomes the company's chief geologist in 1936. In 1937, he crosses the Saudi Arabian peninsula and gains insights into its geological profile. Steineke and his partners also identify surface features that lead to the discovery of major oil fields including Ghawar, Abqaiq and Qatif.

1938

Commercial quantities of oil discovered at Dammam Well No. 7.

The success of the Saudi Arabian oil enterprise rests on Well No. 7. After five years of fruitless drilling, Well No.7 seems like a dead end. Socal department heads seek advice from renowned geologist Max Steineke. Drawing on years of fieldwork in the Saudi desert and his own encyclopedic knowledge, Steineke tells them to keep drilling. Finally, on March 4, 1938, Dammam No. 7 starts producing 1,585 bpd at a depth of nearly 1½ kilometers.

1939

First tanker load of petroleum exported

In May, King 'Abd al-'Aziz travels to Ras Tanura for a ceremony to mark the first export of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, loaded onto the D. G. Scofield. The ship, named after a co-founder of Socal, holds just under 1/20th the load of a modern supertanker.

More jobs and opportunities for Saudis

By the end of 1939, the payroll shows 3,178 Saudis, 322 Americans and 141 other employees.

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