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Thomas Barger was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1909 to Mary Barger and Michael Thomas Barger.
After college he worked as a surveyor and miner in Canada, an engineer, assayer and assistant manager of a silver and radium mine in the Northwest Territories and as an assistant professor of mining at the University of North Dakota.
He accepted a position at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company but the Great Depression and falling copper prices resulted in his being forced to find work elsewhere.
In 1937 Barger interviewed with J.O. Nomland, the chief geologist at the Standard Oil Company of California, in San Francisco and accepted a job as a surveyor in Saudi Arabia.
He married Kathleen Elizabeth Ray on November 18, 1937 shortly before heading off to Saudi Arabia by himself for what ended up being three years exploring potential oil sites in the Saudi Arabian desert along with fellow American geologists Max Steineke, Jerry Harriss, Ernie Berg and others as well as a group of Bedouin guides headed by Khamis bin Rimthan of the Ajman tribe.
After the men discovered Saudi Arabia's vast fields of oil Barger began a career with Aramco that would last 32 years. He started as a surveyor and geologist then worked as the director of Local Government Relations, was the company representative to the Saudi government and was manager for Concession Affairs.
Fluent in Arabic, Barger was a key element in the company's relationship with the Saudi government and people. He ensured that the goal of the company was to be mutually beneficial, training and employing thousands of Saudis and eventually becoming a Saudi run and owned entity (which it is today).
Kathleen and Thomas lived in Dhahran and had six children. Barger retired from the company in 1969.
- Time Magazine. Business: Personal File 1961-10-20.
- "Tom Barger of N.D. Heads One of World's Oil Giants." The Forum. 24 Apr. 1966. (The Forum is a newspaper in Fargo - Moorhead North Dakota).
- North Dakota Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Inductees