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  15 May 2022, 14:45

Saudi Aramco says Q1 profits jump 82% as oil prices surge

RIYADH, May 15, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Saudi Aramco on Sunday posted an 82-percent

jump in first quarter profits, buoyed by a global surge in oil prices that
has made it the world's most valuable company.

The announcement continued a string of recent positive economic news for
Saudi Arabia, where a booming oil sector is fuelling the fastest growth rate
in a decade.

Aramco's net income of $39.5 billion was up from $21.7 billion compared with
the same period in 2021, "primarily driven by higher crude oil prices and
volumes sold, and improved downstream margins," it said in a press release.

The latest financial results were published four days after Aramco dethroned
Apple as the world's most valuable company, with shares worth $2.42 trillion
compared to Apple's $2.37 trillion.

In March, Aramco reported a 124 percent net annual profit increase for 2021.

But the firm, the kingdom's "crown jewel" and primary source of government
revenue, has faced security challenges from the war which involves a Saudi-
led military coalition against Yemen's Huthi rebels who have repeatedly
targeted the kingdom, including Aramco sites.

A two-month truce in the war has generally been holding since it started in
April, but in 2019 Huthi-claimed aerial assaults on two Aramco facilities in
eastern Saudi Arabia temporarily knocked out half of the kingdom's crude
production.

A March attack by the Huthis on facilities of the largely state-owned firm
caused a "temporary" drop in production.

The net income for the first quarter was a record for Aramco since its
initial public offering in 2019.

Also on Sunday, Aramco announced it was issuing 20 billion bonus shares to
shareholders -- one share for every 10 shares already owned.

A dividend of $18.8 billion will be paid in the second quarter, it said.

"Against the backdrop of increased volatility in global markets, we remain
focused on helping meet the world's demand for energy that is reliable,
affordable and increasingly sustainable," Aramco president and CEO Amin
Nasser said.

- Oil-fuelled boom -

In early May, Saudi Arabia reported its fastest economic growth rate in a
decade, as a booming oil sector fuelled a 9.6 percent rise in the first
quarter over the same period of 2021.

The world's biggest oil exporter has resisted US entreaties to raise output
in an attempt to rein in prices that have spiked since the Ukraine war began.

As the war got underway, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stressed
their commitment to the OPEC+ oil alliance, which Riyadh and Moscow lead,
underscoring Riyadh's and Abu Dhabi's increasing independence from long-
standing ally Washington.

Saudi Arabia's GDP is expected to grow by 7.6 percent in 2022, the
International Monetary Fund said in April.

Saudi Arabia has sought both to open up and diversify its oil-reliant
economy, especially since Mohammed bin Salman's appointment as crown prince
in 2017.

Aramco floated 1.7 percent of its shares on the Saudi bourse in December
2019, generating $29.4 billion in the world's biggest initial public
offering.

In February, the kingdom shifted four percent of Aramco shares, worth $80
billion, to the country's sovereign wealth fund -- a move analysts saw as a
possible prelude to further opening up the oil giant.

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