Energy giant Saudi Aramco on Tuesday announced a 30% rise in first-quarter profits on Tuesday, a sign of recovery from last year’s oil market crash, fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Aramco said its net profit rose to $ 21.7 billion in the first three months of the year, from $ 16.7 billion in the same quarter of 2020, due to a stronger oil market and higher refining and chemical margins.
The exceptional results follow strong profits last month by major oil companies – including France’s Total, Britain’s BP and Anglo-Dutch group Shell – as the rally in crude prices fueled their rebound from the pandemic.
“The momentum provided by the global economic recovery has strengthened energy markets,” Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said in a statement.
“Aramco’s operational flexibility, financial agility and resilience contributed to a strong performance in the first quarter. “
The strong profits bring relief to Saudi Arabia’s cash cow Aramco, which has shown consecutive declines in profits since starting to disclose profits in 2019.
The company’s low incomes have put pressure on public finances as Riyadh faces a skyrocketing budget deficit and pursues multibillion-dollar plans to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
Saudi Arabia is currently looking to monetize its energy assets, as it explores new sources of revenue to fund its ambitious diversification drive.
Last month, Aramco said it had reached a $ 12.4 billion deal to sell a minority stake in a newly formed pipeline company to a consortium led by US firm EIG Global Energy Partners.
Long regarded as the kingdom’s “crown jewel”, Aramco and its assets were once tightly controlled by the government and viewed as off limits to outside investment.
But with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, accelerating efforts to implement his ‘Vision 2030’ reform program, the kingdom has shown itself ready to cede a some control.
In late April, Prince Mohammed said Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude, was in talks to sell 1% of Aramco to an unnamed foreign energy company.
Aramco previously sold a slice of its shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange in December 2019, generating $ 29.4 billion in the world’s largest public offering.
The energy giant could announce another stock offering to international investors within a year or two, the prince said.
As part of another major diversification push in March, Saudi Arabia announced plans to inject $ 3.2 trillion in investments into the national economy by 2030, in largest companies in the kingdom, including Aramco.
Under a program named “Shareek,” or partner, Aramco and other large Saudi companies will lead the investment campaign by contributing five trillion riyals ($ 1.3 trillion) over the next decade. , said Prince Mohammed.
© 2021 AFP