• 1930: Standard Oil of California (Socal) takes over the concession of New Zealander Frank Holmes, who was acting for a UK syndicate in Bahrain.

  • 1932: Socal finds oil in Bahrain, prompting the search for oil in Saudi Arabia.

  • 1933: King Abdulaziz grants oil concession to California Arabian Standard Oil Company (Casoc), an affiliate of Socal. Oil prospecting begins in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

  • 1936: Texaco acquires 50 per cent interest in Socal’s concession.

  • 1938: Kingdom’s first commercial oil field is discovered at Dhahran.

  • 1939: First tanker load of petroleum is exported.

  • 1944: Casoc changes its name to Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco).

  • 1945: Ras Tanura refinery begins operations.

  • 1948: Standard Oil of New Jersey and Socony-Vacuum Oil (now both ExxonMobil) join Socal and Texaco as owners of Aramco.

  • 1948: Discovery of the Ghawar oil field.

  • 1950: 1,700km Trans-Arabian pipeline (Tapline) is completed, linking Eastern Province oil fields to Lebanon and the Mediterranean.

  • 1956: Aramco confirms scale of Ghawar and Safaniya, respectively the world’s largest oil field and largest offshore oil field.

  • 1973: Government acquires a 25 per cent participation interest in Aramco.

  • 1975: Master Gas System project is launched.

  • 1980: Government acquires 100 per cent participation interest in Aramco.

  • 1987: East-West crude oil pipeline is completed, boosting capacity to 3.2 million barrels a day.

  • 1988: Saudi Aramco is established.

  • 1989: High-quality oil and gas are discovered south of Riyadh, the first find outside the company’s original operating area.

  • 1991: Ras Tanura refinery upgrade project launched (completed in 1998).

  • 1993: Aramco takes charge of domestic refining, marketing, distribution and joint venture refining.

  • 1994: Maximum sustained crude oil production capacity is returned to 10 million barrels a day.

  • 1995: Development of the remote Shaybah field in Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) begins.

  • 1997: Development of Hawiyah gas plant at the southern end of the Ghawar field begins.

  • 1998: Saudi Aramco, Texaco and Shell establish Motiva Enterprises, a major refining and marketing joint venture in the southern and eastern US.

  • 1998: Shaybah field comes on stream, one of the largest projects of its kind, processing 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

  • 1999: Development of Haradh gas plant begins.

  • 2000: Petroleum Intelligence Weekly ranks Aramco number one in the world for the 11th straight year, based on the kingdom’s crude oil reserves and production.

  • 2000: Aramco Gulf Operations is established to assume management of the government’s petroleum interest in the offshore neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

  • 2000: Aramco launches abortive upstream gas initiative intended to elicit IOC investment.

  • 2001: Hawiyah gas plant, capable of processing up to 1.6 billion cubic feet a day of non-associated gas, comes on stream.

  • 2001: Qatif field development begins.

  • 2003: Hawiya natural gas liquids recovery programme launched to process 4 billion cubic feet a day.

  • 2004: Qataf facilities come on line, the first to process extra light, light and medium grades of crude.

  • 2005: Khursaniyah and Khurais field developments begin.

  • 2005: Shaybah field expansion project starts.

  • 2006: Aramco and Sumitomo break ground on Petro-Rabigh integrated refining/ petrochemical project.

  • 2007: Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi outlines projects to achieve 12.5 million-barrel-a-day production capacity by 2009.

  • 2007: First wells drilled by IOCs in the Empty Quarter all reported to be dry.