World’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Aramco, rakes in blockbuster profits amid soaring energy prices
- It made £83.5billion last year – more than double the level it generated in 2020
- Analysts predict profits could hit £106billion this year as countries shun Russia
- Investors who own a stake in Aramco will share in a £57billion dividend
- Bonanza comes as Chancellor facing pressure to help households with bills
The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Aramco, has raked in blockbuster profits amid soaring energy prices.
The Saudi Arabian titan made £83.5billion last year – more than double the level it generated in 2020 – even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent the cost of oil spiralling.
It was the largest profit Aramco has seen since it listed on the stock market in 2019.
The bumper income signalled that the state-backed giant is heading for an even more lucrative year on the back of Western attempts to shun Russia’s oil supply, with analysts predicting profits could hit £106billion.
Aramco’s windfall came just days after Boris Johnson paid a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia, which has a poor record on human rights, as he sought to persuade the de facto ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, to increase its oil output.
Well-heeled investors who own a stake in Aramco – including the Saudi government which owns 94 per cent – will share in a £57billion dividend.
But the bonanza comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing pressure to help British households manage their sky-high household bills. Sunak unveils his Spring Statement on Wednesday, and has been urged to provide further support to families struggling to make ends meet.
He had already vowed to hand out £9billion to households, giving millions £350 off their energy bills. But this policy was announced in February, before the Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine sent prices through the roof.
Now, to provide the same level of support, he would need to offer more than £12billion of further subsidies, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Aramco has vowed to boost its own spending on oil production, in a move which should help to ease some of the price pressure.
Chief executive Amin Nasser said years of under-investment in oil production were threatening energy security as oil consumption was rising and depleting inventories.
He said: ‘We see healthy oil demand. Unfortunately there is shrinking global spare capacity, combined with low inventories and a lack of investment.’
The International Energy Agency has called for car-free Sundays and lower speed limits around the world, in an effort to reduce reliance on oil and hurt Vladimir Putin’s economy.
Efforts to cut off Russia will play into Aramco’s hands. Its shares, which trade primarily on the Saudi Arabian stock market which is open on a Sunday, climbed 3.2 per cent yesterday. The company is valued at £1.7 trillion, taking it ahead of Microsoft.
In Britain, Sunak is under pressure to bring in a one-off windfall tax to curb huge profits by domestic oil companies.