Saudi Aramco Q2 profits nearly quadruple compared to 2020

Riyadh (AFP) –


Energy giant Saudi Aramco said Sunday its second quarter profits for 2021 had nearly quadrupled compared to the same period last year on the back of higher oil prices.

The company's success comes after its debts climbed last year, when Saudi Arabia was hammered by the double whammy of low prices and sharp cuts in production triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Aramco said its net profit rose to $25.5 billion in the second quarter of the year, compared to $6.6 billion in the same quarter of 2020, owing to a stronger oil market and higher refining and chemicals margins, and with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

"Our second quarter results reflect a strong rebound in worldwide energy demand, and we are heading into the second half of 2021 more resilient and more flexible, as the global recovery gains momentum," Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser said in a statement.

The announcement comes approximately two months after the company said it raised $6 billion from its first dollar-denominated Islamic bond sale, posting earlier this year a 30 percent jump in first quarter profits.

Aramco -- the kingdom's cash cow -- said in May that its net profit rose to $21.7 billion in the first three months of the year.

The energy giant posted a 44.4 percent slump in 2020 net profit, piling pressure on government finances as Riyadh pursues its multi-billion dollar projects to diversify the economy.

The world's leading oil producers agreed last month to continue to modestly boost output from August reaching a compromise after the United Arab Emirates blocked a deal.

An OPEC+ meeting decided to raise output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) each month from August to help fuel a global economic recovery as the pandemic eases.

- Aramco opens up -

Long seen as the kingdom's economic "crown jewel", Aramco and its assets were once tightly government-controlled and considered off-limits to outside investment.

But with the rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, who is accelerating efforts to implement his "Vision 2030" reform programme, the kingdom has shown readiness to cede some control.

Aramco previously sold a sliver of its shares on the Saudi bourse in December 2019, generating $29.4 billion for 1.7 percent of its shares.

In April, the company said it had struck a $12.4-billion deal to sell a minority stake in a newly formed oil pipeline business, to a consortium led by US-based EIG Global Energy Partners.

And in June, Aramco "successfully raised $6 billion, following the sale of US dollar-denominated sharia-compliant securities to leading institutional investors", the company said.

Aramco also declared a dividend of $18.8 billion for the second quarter.

Earlier this year, Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would sell more Aramco shares.

Some analysts have raised concerns at past drone and missile attacks on Aramco's facilities in the kingdom -- claimed by Yemen's Huthi rebels.

There are also increased fears over cyber attacks, with Saudi Aramco confirming last month that company data had been leaked from one of it contractors. However, the company said it had "no impact" on operations.

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold early last year, oil prices plunged as demand for crude crashed.

They have since recovered with a bang, currently trading above $70 per barrel.