Business World

Saudi Aramco’s profits dipped 44.4% in 2020 after lower oil demand

Saudi oil giant Aramco has reported a 44.4 percent plunge in last year’s net profit, as the coronavirus pandemic curbed global demand.

The effect of COVID-19 took a heavy toll on the company and its peers in 2020, but oil prices have rallied this year as economies recover from the downturn and after oil producers extended output cuts.

“Aramco achieved a net income of $49 billion in 2020,” the company said in a statement on Sunday, down from $88.2 billion in 2019.

It said “revenues were impacted by lower crude oil prices and volumes sold, and weakened refining and chemicals margins”.

Aramco CEO Amin Nasser described 2020 as “one of the most challenging years in recent history”.

But compared with many of its loss-generating international peers, the company, which made its stock market debut in 2019, played up its “strong financial resilience” despite the challenges and said shareholders would still receive dividends totalling $75 billion.

“We are pleased that there are signs of a recovery,” Nasser told an earnings call. “China is also very close to pre-pandemic levels. So in Asia, East Asia in particular, there is strong pick-up in demand.”

He said demand in Europe and the United States would improve with more deployment of vaccines against COVID-19. Global oil demand is expected to reach 99 million barrels per day by the end of this year, he added.

Crude prices have risen in recent weeks to more than $60 per barrel.