Floyd Ohliger: Getting the Job Done

Surprisingly Floyd Ohliger, who was present during the very early days of Aramco, would have been reluctant to consider himself a “pioneer.” In Ohliger’s eyes, the true “pioneers” of the company were the early geologists, including Max Steineke and others. Ohliger said in a 1983 interview with “The Arabian Sun” that his team did not see themselves as “pathfi nders” but rather as just men who were there to work.

Educated in petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University, Ohliger began his career in the oil fields of Venezuela and Colombia. In 1934 he was approached by Standard Oil of California (Socal) about working in Saudi Arabia. He jumped at the chance, and immediately headed to al-Khobar, where his first assignment as a petroleum engineer was to oversee construction of a pier and supervise the unloading of equipment. He went on to hold many positions with Aramco, developing a strong reputation for “getting the job done.” One of Ohliger’s more interesting jobs was with Government Relations, where he had frequent contact with King Abdul Aziz. The two men developed a very positive, respectful relationship and Ohliger reflected fondly on his close interactions with the King. Additional positions Ohliger held included resident manager, general manager, vice president and chairman of the Aramco Board of Directors. He retired from Aramco in 1957 and subsequently returned to the United States with his family.

On the 50th Anniversary of Aramco, Ohliger returned to the Eastern Province and other areas in Saudi Arabia, met with management and toured the new Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC). He commented to “The Arabian Sun” during that return visit to the Kingdom that his work and time with Aramco brought him a “satisfaction more inward than anything else.” He also talked about the overwhelming transformation of the Kingdom in the years he had been away and said the developments “for the country as a whole, including Aramco in the last 10 years, have been greater than all the preceding years.” Much of the transformation was the result of a highly successful oil industry built through the hard work of Aramco’s early pioneers, and Ohliger, whether he would admit it or not, played a significant role in this success.