Fred Davies: Early Explorer, Dedicated Leader

Spanning a 37-year career in the oil business, Fred Davies was one of Saudi Aramco’s earliest pioneers and geologists. Originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota, Davies studied engineering at the University of Minnesota before serving in World War I. He became a geologist in the United States and started his career in the oil business at the California Oil Company in Texas.

It was 1934 when Davies visited the Arabian Gulf on his first trip. On behalf of Socal (Standard Oil Company of California) and its subsidiary Bapco, Davies worked with the team that located the first wildcat well in Bahrain. Based on this discovery and his superior instincts, Davies recommended efforts to obtain a concession agreement in Saudi Arabia. He was convinced of the Kingdom’s great potential for oil exploration.

This instinctive knowledge led to a tremendous future for Davies with the company, including his presence in 1939 when King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz turned the valve that permitted oil to fl ow onto the first export tanker at Ras Tanura. Davies’ career with the company flourished after the momentous entrance of Saudi Arabia into commercial oil production.

Davies’ career path included President of Casoc (California Arabian Standard Oil Company); Aramco Vice President of Exploration and Production; Executive Vice President of Aramco; and eventually CEO and Chairman of the board. He also served on the senior leadership team during the season that Aramco relocated its headquarters from New York to Dhahran. He relocated his family to Dhahran and resided in the Kingdom for the remainder of his Aramco career.

In a display of honor, Aramco’s first floating storage vessel was named the “F.A. Davies.” Liston Hills, President of Aramco at the time, described Davies as a man “whose vision, professional skills and persistence were instrumental in the uncovering of vast petroleum reserves in the Gulf.”