Saudi Aramco is the national petroleum producing and exporting corporation of Saudi Arabia. The name is partially an acronym, and stands for "Saudi Arabian American Oil Company." The venture itself began in 1933 with an agreement between the Saudi government and Southern California Oil Company for exploration and commercialization of petroleum deposits in Saudi Arabia. Although initial exploration was unsuccessful, after changing partners a couple of times the venture finally struck oil at Dammam, just north of Dhahran, in 1938. Dhahran would become the headquarters location of the venture, which was renamed Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company) in 1944 as it began volume production. The Saudi Government demanded a 50 percent share of profits from the venture in 1950 under the threat of nationalizing all petroleum infrastructure; the U.S. government compensated the American companies involved via tax breaks to make up for their reduced profits. In the 1970s, the Saudi government began to acquire a stake in Aramco, and by 1980 owned the company outright. The name was later changed to Saudi Aramco to denote this.

In 1993, the Saudi government merged Aramco with Samarec, the national petroleum refining company, to centralize all petrochemical operations with Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco also formed a company to handle shipping operations, transporting crude and refined products to other countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia - hiring, building, owning and operating tankers. That entity is known as Vela Marine.

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