Exploring the Age of Underground Oil Rivers in Saudi Arabia with Sheikh Abdullah

The journey of oil through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began with its discovery in March 1938 for the first time in industrial quantities at well No. 7 Dammam, and export began the following year.

Founding King Abdulaziz Al Saud was present when the first shipment of crude oil was loaded. The DJ Scofield oil tanker was anchored in the Persian Gulf port of Ras Tanura, and the founding king of Saudi Arabia arrived from Riyadh in a huge convoy of 400 vehicles to the newly renamed Dhahran region. .

On May 1, 1939, King Abdulaziz Al Saud turned on the oil tap, and it flowed to fill the first Saudi oil tanker. Thus, the Kingdom entered the era of “black gold” and became one of the advanced countries with the largest oil reserves. stocks and production capabilities.

History of oil discovery in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia, at the time of its founding, was a poor country and suffered, in particular, from an acute shortage of water, and the search for groundwater was the path that led it to oil in the depths of its deserts.

The founding king, Abdulaziz Al Saud, had a friendly relationship with Briton Harry St. John Bridger Philby and was known at the time as “Sheikh Abdullah”.

Sheikh Abdullah was born in Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka, graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and began his career in public service in India.

During World War I he worked for the British political mission in Baghdad and Basra, and Abdulaziz Al Saud first met Philby in 1917 during his embassy in Riyadh.

In 1925, Philby left the civil service, dissatisfied with British policy in the Middle East, and returned to Saudi Arabia, where he established a trading company in Jeddah, renewed his friendship with the House of Saud, and after a while became an unofficial adviser. king.

Philby or “Sheikh Abdullah” is the one who thought about solving the water problem and finding its underground rivers in the desert.

He and one of his acquaintances, the American Charles Crane, dealt with this issue. Wealthy Crane owned a company that did all the plumbing work. In addition to a great interest in history and international relations, the main passion of this American was the study of the Arabic language, and this business brought Karrani and Philby closer, they met and exchanged ancient manuscripts and hadiths about them.

When Crane learned of Philby’s plans to search for underground rivers in the region, he was immediately overjoyed and traveled to nearby Yemen in search of water with a team led by Carl Twichell, an exploration and drilling specialist.

On February 25, 1931, Crane arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. King Abdulaziz Al Saud received him with a lavish banquet and special honors. He gave him many pieces of carpets, daggers, swords and two purebred Arabian horses.

They talked about the spreading hot desert and the possibility of underground rivers under the rock of Nejd. After that, the Twichella expedition was transferred to Arabia.

Having made a difficult journey, during which he covered a distance of more than 2414 kilometers to check for traces of artesian water in the Arabian Desert, Twichell appeared in Jeddah in April 1931 with unpleasant news about the results of water exploration, but at the same time he reported that the experiments drilling confirmed the presence of oil in the eastern regions of the Arabian Peninsula.

King Abdulaziz Al Saud sought with the help of Philby to find foreign investors, and the choice fell on the Americans, and a process of competition began for concessions to find oil in the region between the Americans and the British, and the choice was placed on Standard Oil of California “Socal”.

Geological exploration work began at Jubail in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia in September 1933, and the movement of the first geologists, and there were only two of them at first, and the movement of equipment on camels, and then trucks appeared a few months later.

By the end of 1933, eight oil workers were working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and by the end of 1936 their number in the Dammam Dome area had reached 62 Americans and more than 1,000 Saudis.

On April 30, 1935, the drilling of the first well Dammam 1 began, followed by wells Dammam 2, 3, 4 and 5. In well Dammam No. 7, which was drilled in December 1937, oil flowed after reaching a depth of 1440 meters, and well Dammam 2 and Dammam 4 began to give good results, and the Kingdom practically entered the era of “oil rivers”.

Source: RT

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