The development of oil fields in Saudi Arabia was accompanied by numerous difficulties. In this regard, the most challengeable task for oil companies was to find the oil deposit and exploration of the territory of Saudi Arabia in search of oil. The vast part of the territory of Saudi Arabia is covered with sand but, at the same time, the country has huge deposits of oil. In such a situation, the exploration of the territory of Saudi Arabia could pave the way toward the discovery of huge oil deposits and discoveries made in the 20th century proved the richness of natural resources of this deserted country. In fact, discovered oil deposits turned Saudi Arabia from a deserted country into one of the richest countries in the Gulf region as well as in the entire world.
In such a context, it is important to dwell upon the exploration of Saudi Arabia and discovery of oil fields. In fact, the first attempts of discovering oil in Saudi Arabia were made in the early 20th century but searching for oil was a challengeable task. First of all, it is worth mentioning the fact that, in the course of time, methods and techniques of oil exploration changed and evolved:
Locating oil sources by surface or near-surface indications or by random wildcat drilling is being replaced by ever more sophisticated exploration techniques: subsurface geology, core drilling, deep drilling and geophysics. (Da Cruz & Walters, 2010)
The aforementioned methods can be quite effective but companies conducting exploration of oil fields can never be certain that they can find the oil in the volume suggested by explorers. At the same time, in order to discover oil companies such as Saudi Aramco should understand how the oil is formed and where it can be found. In this regard, modern scientists have different theories. For instance, many specialists believe that
oil is found in nearly all ages of rock, going back some 500 million years to the Cambrian Age, when the organic debris of innumerable tiny invertebrate animals or simple vegetable matter carpeted ocean floors. As the layers of dead cells were buried deeper and deeper beneath deposits of sand and ooze, physical and chemical forces still but dimly understood converted part of the organic substances into oil. In some places an overlying deposit of material such as clay, silt, sand or lime effectively sealed in the petroleum. (Da Cruz & Walters, 2010)
This is the Organic theory, which defines the origin of oil from organic decays. However, there are other theories, which admit the inorganic origin of oil, the Organic theory is still the most relevant today and the majority of specialists agree on the organic origin of oil.
On analyzing Saudi Aramco experience of exploration and finding oil fields, it is possible to distinguish two methods of exploration. The first method was used in the early stages of the development of oil fields in Saudi Arabia:
In the first rush for oil, explorers searched out surface seeps of crude oil, set up their primitive cable tool rigs, and started drilling, on the reasonable assumption that there must be more where that came from. (Da Cruz & Walters, 2010)
This method was extremely unreliable and failed to provide reliable outcomes. As a result, the risk of failure and wasting investments spent on drilling oil shells was high. In the course of time, Saudi Aramco used another method. In fact, the second method was as follows:
Based on Newton’s principle that gravitational pull depends on the weight of an object and its distance from the measuring device, the torsion balance was able to map such subterranean features as an anticline because the gravitational pull of the rock at the bottom of the dome, being nearer to the instrument on the surface, was greater than that of the same rock on the anticline’s edges. (Da Cruz & Walters, 2010).
At the same time, even today there is no universal method of exploration of oil fields which can provide the 100% guarantee of discovery of oil fields. As the matter of fact, there is always a large margin for error in case of the oil exploration because oil fields are located in different places and the more oil is extracted the more difficult it is to uncover and to reach new oil fields because they are located in remote areas, which are not always accessible not only for traditional drilling but also for traditional methods of exploration.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the exploration of oil fields has always a challengeable task. The experience of Saudi Aramco proved that the oil extraction and exploration is quite challengeable and need considerable financial and human resources, especially today, when the oil becomes more and more scarce resource and its extraction becomes more and more difficult. In this regard, the experience of early explorers can be very useful.