Saudi Aramco full-year profit more than doubles on soaring oil prices

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An employee looks on at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia October 12, 2019.

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco reported blowout full-year earnings on Sunday, posting a doubling in year-on-year net profit to $110 billion.

Aramco’s 2021 net income increased by 124% to $110 billion in 2021, compared to $49 billion in 2020, citing higher crude oil prices, stronger refining and chemicals margins, and the consolidation of its chemicals business, SABIC’s, full-year results. 

The numbers were in line with expectations, with analysts surveyed by Reuters forecasting net income of $109.7 billion for the full year.

“Our strong results are a testament to our financial discipline, flexibility through evolving market conditions and steadfast focus on our long-term growth strategy, which targets value growth for our shareholders,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in the results release.

Surging oil

Aramco benefitted from surging oil prices during 2021, with international benchmark Brent crude rising above $80 a barrel by the end of the year, up roughly 50% for the 12-month period. Supply shortages added to a complex slew of factors driving major uncertainty across the energy and commodity complex, even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 “Although economic conditions have improved considerably, the outlook remains uncertain due to various macro-economic and geopolitical factors,” he added.

Aramco also declared a fourth quarter dividend of $18.8 billion, to be paid in the first quarter of 2022. The dividend is covered by a rise in free-cash flow to $107.5 billion in 2021, compared to $49.1 billion in 2020. 

Aramco said it would recommend that $4 billion in retained earnings be used to pay bonus shares to investors, subject to approval. Under the recommendation, shareholders would receive one bonus share for every 10 shares owned. As a result, the total dividend for 2021 is $75 billion in cash, in addition to bonus shares. 

Capital expenditure boost

The company also said it would invest to increase crude oil production capacity to 13 million barrels per day by 2027, expand its liquid to chemical production, and look to increase gas production by more than 50% by 2030. 

Aramco has also said it wants to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company, while Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased power consumed by the company.

Capital expenditure in 2021 was $31.9 billion, an increase of 18% from 2020, primarily driven by increased activities in relation to crude oil increments, the Tanajib Gas Plant and development drilling programs. Aramco expects 2022 capital expenditure to be approximately $40-50 billion, with further growth expected until around the middle of the decade. 

The figures are a stark contrast from the company’s 2020 earnings, which saw a 44% drop on the previous year due to demand collapse brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nasser at the time described Aramco’s 2020 financial year as one of its most “challenging years” in recent history. 

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