Monday 22 March 2021 7:40 am

Saudi Aramco’s profits plunge 44 per cent as oil demand slides

Oil group Saudi Aramco will keep its $75bn dividend promise to shareholders despite profits almost halving in 2020 as Covid rocked economies.

The world’s biggest oil firm said net income had dropped to £35.4bn, down 44 per cent compared to the previous year.

Aramco has taken on more debt in the past 12 months to keep up the dividend as the price of crude plummeted.

Shares in the oil giant dipped by 0.14 per cent today to around $9.40 per share.

In 2019, executives promised to pay $75bn annually over the next five years. 

CEO Amin Nasser said there was no intention to increase the dividend from what has been pledged, signalling caution over global oil markets.

The effect on oil majors has been reflected throughout the wider industry, as Royal Dutch Shell saw profits drop to the lowest in two decades and Exxon Mobil posted its first ever annual loss.

In what Nasser described as “a difficult year”, Aramaco saw its average crude production fall to 9.2 million barrels a day, the lowest level since 2011.

Nasser said Aramco will prioritise China’s energy security for the next 50 years as new and existing energy sources run in parallel.

“We appreciate that sustainable energy solutions are crucial to a faster and smoother global energy transition but, realistically, this will take some time since there are few alternatives to oil in many areas.”