Reigned 1975 – 1982
The time of King Khalid saw tremendous economic and industrial growth in the Kingdom, driven in large part by the expansion of Aramco’s oil and, increasingly, natural gas production capacity. This growth was highlighted in 1976 when Aramco became the only Company in the world to produce more than 3 billion barrels of crude oil in a single calendar year.
The Government and Aramco together embarked on a capital program in the mid to late 1970s that was unprecedented in industrial history – a program that was unmatched until the current capital program that was launched in 2005. In 1977, Aramco had three of the world’s largest projects under way at the same time: the Zuluf GOSP-2, the Qurayyah
Seawater Treatment Plant and the Master Gas System (MGS). The MGS was designed to provide fuel or feed stock for electrical power plants, cement and desalination plants, and for petrochemical, fertilizer and steel-making facilities. In November 1977, King Khalid commissioned the Berri Gas Plant, the first plant completed in the MGS.
The next year, a major component of the MGS was completed when Aramco built an NGL pipeline across the country from Shedgum to Yanbu‘. As part of the overall MGS, two vast industrial cities were constructed at Jubail on the Gulf and at Yanbu‘ on the Red Sea. The latter, which included several major Aramco facilities, was formally dedicated in 1979.
The MGS had a dramatic impact on domestic contractors as well as on industries ranging from earth moving to construction, steel, cement and welding, with Aramco awarding hundreds of contracts worth billions of dollars to Saudi firms.
In the Founder’s Footsteps
Inaugurating Berri Gas Plant, 1977
Visiting Jubail, 1980
Visiting Ju’aymah, 1980
Acting upon King Khalid’s Royal Decree creating the Saudi Consolidated Electrical Company, or SCECO, in August 1976, Aramco worked out a plan to combine 26 local power companies with its own power plants, thus creating a unified electrical grid in the Eastern Province.
The MGS and SCECO projects demonstrated the supreme trust placed in Aramco by the rulers of Saudi Arabia who recognized the Company’s ability to handle the biggest industrial and engineering challenges in the Kingdom. At the end of the decade, in 1980, King Khalid oversaw the Government’s acquisition of the remaining interest in Aramco, setting the stage for the Company to become a fully Saudi-owned and managed enterprise.