When it comes to petroleum geology, Saudi Arabia is home to some of the best in the world. Much of this geology is located in remote, inhospitable places. But that hasn’t stopped us from meeting those challenges and investing in projects that help meet global energy demand.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, our geologists were trying to piece together a puzzle: What was the full extent of the Kingdom’s subsurface petroleum structures? Our early explorers delved into some of the harshest, most desolate environments in the world to answer this question. In 1948 they discovered the Ghawar field – the largest crude oil field in the world – on the edge of the Rub’ al-Khali. But what lay undiscovered beyond it, deep in the heart of the Empty Quarter?
We set out on a journey of discovery into the most unforgiving terrain and the most inaccessible area in which we had ever searched for oil.
Finding the hidden treasure
In 1968, in the middle of Rub’ al-Khali desert, over 500 miles from our headquarters in Dhahran, the search paid off. We discovered a vast oil field, guarded by dunes of red and golden sand 1000 feet (333 m) tall and regularly buffeted by winds of up to 80 mph (50 kmph). And where temperature in summer routinely reaches 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). The terrain, climate, and complexity of logistics, however, meant that development was out of the question, so the field lay silent for another thirty years.