Aramco's 2019 profit falls 21 per cent, plans to adjust capital spending

March 15, 2020

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A view shows branded oil tanks at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia on October 12, 2019. — Reuter/File
A view shows branded oil tanks at Saudi Aramco oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia on October 12, 2019. — Reuter/File

Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Sunday posted a 21 per cent decline in 2019 net profit due to a drop in oil prices and production, and said it plans to “rationalise” capital spending in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

This was Aramco’s first earnings announcement after it listed in December in a record $29.4 billion initial public offering (IPO) that valued the company at $1.7 trillion.

Its shares fell below the IPO price last week for the first time, as oil prices crashed after the collapse of an output deal between Opec and non-Opec members which led to an oil price war between Riyadh and Moscow.

Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement the oil giant has taken steps to rationalise planned capital spending in 2020 following the coronavirus outbreak.

“The company expects capital spending for 2020 to be between $25b and $30b in light of current market conditions and recent commodity price volatility. Capital expenditure for 2021 and beyond is currently under review,” Aramco said in a statement.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures last traded at $33.85 per barrel on Friday, down from about $64 when Aramco listed its shares.

Despite a drop in income, Aramco said it paid a dividend of $73.2b in 2019 and intends to declare a cash dividend of $75b in 2020, paid quarterly.

Aramco, which is 98pc owned by the Gulf kingdom, reported a net profit of $88.2b in 2019, down from $111.1 in 2018.

Analysts had expected Aramco to post a net profit of 346.6b riyals ($92.6b) in 2019, according to an estimate of 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv.