Fayez Nureldine / AFP via Getty Images
Saudi Arabia’s state-backed oil giant Aramco saw profits drop 44% last year as restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic reduced demand for fuel around the world.
Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, reported a profit of $ 49 billion in 2020, up from $ 88.2 billion the year before. CEO Amin Nasser described last year as “one of the most difficult years in history”.
Despite the drop, Aramco said it would pay shareholders $ 75 billion in annual dividends. The company started selling shares publicly in December 2019, but the Saudi government owns over 98%, Associated Press reports.
Like its competitors, Aramco has faced historic headwinds in oil markets brought on by the coronavirus. Countries have limited travel and effort to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, causing oil prices to skyrocket. At some point last year, oil prices fell below zero for the first time in history. US energy company Exxon Mobil Corp. has recorded his worst year in 2020, CNN Business reported.
Aramco’s earnings report comes after attacks on its facilities, including a drone strike on Friday claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen. The company said the attacks did not affect business, although the major attacks in 2019 hurt production and rocked oil markets.
Aramco’s figures for 2020 are slightly lower than analysts’ expectations, but still represent one of the highest profits of any company, according to CNBC.
Aramco’s CEO, however, said he sees encouraging signs going forward.
“We are seeing a recovery in demand in Asia and also positive signs elsewhere”,
Nasser said in a report. “We remain convinced that we will come out on the other side of this pandemic in a position of strength.”
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