Oil giant Saudi Aramco said its profits soared more than 80 percent in the first three months of the year as the state-backed company cashes in on the volatility in global energy markets and soaring oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bumper first-quarter earnings by the firm formally known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co show a record net income of $39.5bn, up from $21.7bn during the same period last year.
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The surge was “primarily driven by higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, and improved downstream margins”, Saudi Aramco said in a press release on Sunday.
“Energy security is vital and we are investing for the long term, expanding our oil and gas production capacity to meet anticipated demand growth,” said Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser.
Resurgent economic activity and the relaxation of global coronavirus restrictions had already revived demand for hydrocarbons and delivered strong annual results for the state-backed company last year.
In March, Aramco reported a 124 percent net profit surge for 2021.
Oil prices rallied to a 14-year high of $139 a barrel in March immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although they later receded as Russian oil continued to flow and new lockdowns hurt oil demand in China.
International benchmark Brent crude traded at over $111 a barrel on Sunday.
Aramco overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company as higher oil prices pushed its shares to record levels last week, with the company’s market cap at $2.43 trillion.
The company, the kingdom’s “crown jewel” and a key source of government revenue, faces security challenges related to an ongoing war by a Saudi-led military coalition against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted Saudi Arabia, including Aramco sites.
In 2019, Houthi-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 rebels on Aramco facilities caused a “temporary” drop in production.
In early May, Saudi Arabia reported its fastest economic growth rate in a decade, as a booming oil sector fueled 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.