Saudi oil giant Aramco sees half-year earnings climb to $47B

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing company, Aramco, announced Sunday a net income of around $47 billion for the first half of the year, double what it earned in the same period last year when the coronavirus grounded travel and pummeled global demand for oil.

This puts Aramco back squarely where it was before the pandemic struck and sunk earnings to $23.3 billion at this time last year.

The company said its strong performance in the second quarter of 2021 “was primarily driven by higher crude oil prices.” Benchmark Brent crude oil traded just over $70 a barrel Friday, up from the $45 a barrel range it hit this time last year.

The majority state-owned oil company said net income for the second quarter was $25.46 billion compared to the dramatic figure of just $6.6 billion last year. This quarter’s figure is slightly higher than the $24.7 billion it earned in the second quarter of 2019, before the coronavirus.

Its second quarter earnings are also an improvement from the first quarter of the year, which raked in $21.7 billion.

Aramco’s financial health is crucial to Saudi Arabia’s stability. Despite massive efforts by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the economy, the kingdom still depends heavily on oil exports to fuel government spending.

The company said it will uphold its commitment to pay out dividends of $18.75 billion for the second quarter as part of its promise to pay $75 billion in annual dividends. Most of that payout is to the company’s primary shareholder, the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia has led global efforts by major oil producers to curb output in order to keep prices from crashing as coronavirus uncertainty impacts consumer demand for crude. Under the agreement, the kingdom has been producing between 8-9 million barrels per day since May 2020.