Saudi oil company Aramco's 2021 net profit exceeds pre-pandemic level

Energy giant Saudi Aramco announced on Sunday a 124% increase in its net profit in 2021 compared to 2020, exceeding pre-pandemic levels, hours after further attacks by Yemen rebels on its facilities.

Aramco recorded net profit of 412.4 billion Saudi riyals ($110 billion) in 2021, compared to 183.8 billion Saudi riyals ($49 billion) in 2020, according to a group statement.

The announcement of Aramco's results takes place in a context in which oil prices have soared, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It also comes hours after a new attack by Yemen's Houthi rebels on installations of the energy giant in southern Saudi Arabia, the world's leading exporter of crude oil and country leading a military coalition in support of Yemeni power against the Iranian-backed insurgents.

According to this coalition, Saudi air defenses destroyed one ballistic missile and nine drones, but those with booby traps hit their targets, including an Aramco distribution station in the south and a company's gas liquefaction plant in the west.

- “Exceptional year” -

The attacks caused “material damage to facilities and homes,” according to the coalition. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attacks on “vital and important” establishments, including the infrastructure of Aramco.

In 2019, several airstrikes on two company facilities in the eastern region of the country temporarily halved the kingdom's crude production.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, a group that brings together the six Arab petromonarchies, led by Saudi Arabia, has proposed talks in Riyadh starting on 29 March to try to resolve the conflict in Yemen.

But the rebels have warned that they will not enter “enemy” territory, although they assure that they do not oppose the beginning of the talks.

Aramco, the world's leading oil exporter, had announced a net profit of $88.2 billion in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic hit the global economy, especially the oil and aviation sectors.

The company's CEO, Amin Nasser, welcomed these results: “An exceptional year 2021 for Aramco in terms of financial, operational results, initiatives, achievements and upcoming investments, despite the challenges and the difficult global context due to the pandemic,” according to a statement.

“These strong results demonstrate our budgetary discipline, our flexibility in the face of changing market conditions and the focus on our long-term growth strategy,” he added.

Nasser emphasized that “the outlook remains uncertain due to various macroeconomic and geopolitical factors,” and recalled that “energy security is critical for billions of people around the world.”

Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy, with the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, investing in various sectors nationally and globally.

In February, the kingdom “transferred” 4% of Aramco's shares to the PIF, valued at $80 billion, an operation aimed at “supporting the restructuring of the national economy”.