1940 – Crude production totals 3,933,903 barrels for year.

1940 – May, 11. The first company school opens in al-Khobar. Classes in English and arithmetic are open to everyone, employee or not. The company provides teachers, desks, benches, blackboards, chalk and lamps.

1941 – 3,000-bpd refinery opens in Ras Tanura and is closed six months later due to shortages caused by World War II.


1942 – Despite a decline of manpower due to World War II, production averages between 10,000 and 12,000 bpd, all of it shipped to Bahrain for processing.

1942 – Field mapping is suspended due to wartime limitations of manpower and equipment.

1943 – Due to the difficulty of obtaining automotive parts, camel transport is used to supply the distant Jauf camp with diesel oil, gasoline, drilling muds and cement.

>> Foundations

1944 – Company name changed to Arabian American Oil Co.(Aramco).

1945 – The new 50,000-bpd Ras Tanura Refinery begins operations. The project is completed on schedule, a remarkable achievement under the circumstances. It replaces the 3,000-bpd Ras Tanura Refinery that opened in 1939.

1946 – The first increment of the permanent administration building (now the South Administration Building) is completed and occupied in Dhahran.

‘We came out here to do a job and, by God, we plan to do it.’

Casoc employees in Saudi Arabia during the period 1941-1943

In 1940, there were signs of a big oil field at Abqaiq and a major new discovery at Abu Hadriya. The drilling location for Abu Hadriya No. 1 had been partly based on seismographic evidence, a new development in exploration. When the well struck oil in March 1940, at twice the depth of Dammam No. 7, it was an early vindication for exploration geophysics. This significant strike also showed that similar deep geologic structures in Saudi Arabia might yield oil. In January 1944, when the company was renamed the Arabian American Oil Company, or Aramco, oil was critical for post-war industry, aviation and the recovery of wartorn Europe.

HM King Abd Al-Aziz confers with President Roosevelt on an American cruiser U.S.S. Quincy in the Suez Canal on February 14, 1945. Photo by: Int’l News Photo U. S. A. Signal Corps

Backed by his royal guards as he surveys the scene at the Dhahran Tennis Court on January 25, 1947, HM King Abd Al-Aziz is flanked by Aramco executive James Macpherson (left), by T. V. Stapleton and American Consul Waldo Bailey (right). Courtesy of Evelyn (Mrs. Bill) Squires

1947 – King ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz visits Dhahran. New 50,000-bpd refi nery at Ras Tanura completes its first full year of operation.

1948 – Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (later renamed Exxon and Mobil, respectively) acquire shares in Aramco.

1949 – Saudi Arabia becomes the fifth largest oil-producing nation. It has 80 producing oil wells, 44 in the Abqaiq area, 30 in the Dammam Dome and the rest scattered among the areas of new discovery.

View of Aramco’s Dhahran stabilizer installation at Twilight. Dhahran, 1949. Photo by:T. F. Walters

Ready to run a bit into the well hole, two Saudi Arabian employees of Aramco guide the drill pipe and bit down through rotary table on the platform of their rig near Abqaiq. May 1949. Photo by: T. F. Walters

Date garden with two riders on donkey in the center, Umm Sabah, Hofuf, 1949.

Aviation’s Aramco airplane unloading passengers and cargo, 1940. Photo by: B. H. Moody

Saudi man and his camel infront of Ras Tanura refinery. Photo by: R.Y. Richie