DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest quoted oil company, could pay even more than the $75 billion per year it promised at the time of its initial public offering in 2019, according to new research from analysts at Bank of America.
“We believe that dividend upside is also possible at higher oil prices/output given Aramco’s stellar free cash flow generation,” the BoA analysts said, highlighting an estimate of “close to $100 billion” in cash flow from the company in 2022.
The prediction, which comes as Aramco gears up for a second public offering of shares, is a result of its “unique” position within the global oil market, and because of a recent surge in the oil price.
“This year oil has staged a remarkable recovery as Brent prices crossed $65 per barrel in February,” the report said. Since it was written, Brent has climbed further, to just short of $70 per barrel, which many experts believe it will cross in trading tomorrow.
Oil prices were given new stimulus by the outcome of the meeting of OPEC+ ministers last week, which kept in place virtually all the supply curbs that have sparked the price rise since January.
The collapse in oil prices last year in the pandemic recession removed many high-cost producers from the market, especially in the US shale industry, and decimated capital expenditure in new fields.
“At maximum sustainable capacity of 12 million barrels per day and proven ability to produce even more, Aramco is one of the few companies globally that can substantially boost output without committing additional capex,” BoA said.
The OPEC+ agreement will cap Aramco production this year, but when the agreement ends next year amid an expected surge in demand as the global economic recovery takes off, Aramco’s production outlook could be substantially higher,” the bank said.
BoA’s analysis is based on an estimate of $65 per barrel Brent and Aramco production of 11 million barrels per day, which would generate nearly $100 billion free cash flow.
That would enable Aramco to consider lifting the minimum $75 billion dividend pledged in the IPO, which would be good news for investors who bought the shares then, as well as the government of Saudi Arabia, which still holds by far the majority of Aramco shares.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently said that Aramco was considering the possibility of a second share sale, while Aramco Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan told an oil forum last week that a second offering would be possible “once we see market conditions improving, and more appetite from different investment institutions and investors.”
Aramco, which declined to comment on the BoA report, sold about 1.7 percent of its shares in the 2019 IPO, compared with the target level of 5 percent when the IPO was first mooted in 2016.
The energy giant’s shares were the best performing of all quoted oil companies since the oil market crash last April.