Aramco official: Grit of American geologist led to discovery of oil in Kingdom

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The Director of Aramco Refinery in Riyadh Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadhil narrates the story of the discovery of oil in the Kingdom nearly 80 years ago and the role of an American geologist who refused to depart before reaching the first oil well.

Al-Fadhil said: “King Abdulaziz took a decision to grant the concession for oil exploration to a consortium of American companies in 1933. Prospecting continued for five years until those companies reached a stage of despair because they could not find anything.”

In an interview he gave to “Rotana Khaleejiyah”; Al-Fadhil added: “The management of these companies asked their engineers in the Kingdom to return; as exploration for oil looked to be futile.

“However; there was also one American geologist whose name is“John Stinky”; who refused to return and requested to have more time. He continued the oil exploration operations and it was his grit and determination that eventually led to the historical discovery.”

Al-Fadhil drew attention to the fact that the geologist was excellent in his field and he had confidence and hopes of striking oil; so he also continued work until they discovered Oil Well No.7 in Dammam. He added that at the beginning of the discovery; some 1;500 barrels per day (bpd) used to be from a depth of 1;500 meters.

During those days; discovery also used to rely on proofs and drawing maps. He said that among those who were relied on was Khamees Bin Rumaythan; who knew the Empty Quarters very well and never lost his way.

The guesthouse in the biggest Aramco housing project in Dhahran was named after “Stinky”. In addition; one of the oil wells was after “Khamees Bin Rumaythan”.