On November 3, 2020, ARAMCO, the Saudi state’s own giant company, posted a 44.6% slump in third-quarter profit, as the coronavirus pandemic influences heavily on the global demand for crude oil.
The world’s most valuable listed company posted a net profit of US $11.79 billion compared to $21.3 billion in the same period of 2019. The results are in contrast to the losses reported by Aramco’s rivals, which are reeling from pandemic-driven economic shutdowns that have suppressed energy demand.
Aramco’s net profit for the first nine months of this year also dropped 48.6% to $35.02 billion, the company said. July-September 2020 results showed an improvement compared to the second quarter when it posted a profit of $6.57 billion.
Amin NASSER, the CEO of the company said: “We saw early signs of a recovery in the third quarter due to improved economic activity, despite the headwinds facing global energy markets”. “We continue to adopt a disciplined and flexible approach to capital allocation in the face of market volatility. We are confident in Aramco’s ability to manage through these challenging times and deliver on our objectives,” he added.
Aramco committed to distributing a dividend of $18.75 billion to shareholders for the third quarter, but this amount exceeds the declared profit.
Tarek FADLALLAH, CEO of the Middle East unit of Nomura Asset Management said: “Aramco’s dividend payout is now much bigger than its income”. “Not a problem if oil rebounds next year. But it will be a big problem if it doesn’t” he added.
Aramco’s dividend payment is the most important cash source that helps the government to manage the fiscal deficit.
Crude oil prices have fallen 41 % from $66 per barrel at the end of 2019 to $38.75 on Tuesday.
ExxonMobil and Chevron have reported last month another quarter of red ink as uncertainty over oil demand forced the energy sector to rein in spending. On the other side, Aramco’s result reflected its “resilience” NASSER said.
In June 2020 Bloomberg reported that Aramco has cut its capital spending this year and also slashed hundreds of jobs as it seeks to reduce costs.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has been hit hard by the low prices and sharp cuts in production.
Although the results suggest the worst of the pandemic’s effect on energy demand may have passed, Aramco still faces a brittle market. Oil prices fell to a five-month low this week amid fresh travel restrictions in Europe aimed at stemming a surge in virus cases.
The OPEC and allied producers, who agreed to slash crude exports in April, are assessing to delay an easing of those curbs to buttress crude price.
This article was edited using the data from Aljazeera.com, Arabnews.com Auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com, Asiatimes.com, and Postofasia.com.