Aramco beats expectations with $21.7bn net income

Aramco beats expectations with $21.7bn net income
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Updated 05 May 2021

Aramco beats expectations with $21.7bn net income

Aramco beats expectations with $21.7bn net income
  • Kingdom’s energy giant said Q1 results were due to operational flexibility, financial agility
  • The oil price has risen by more than a third since the start of the year, giving an immediate boost to Aramco revenues in the quarter

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, beat experts’ expectations with a profit of $21.7 billion in the first quarter of 2021 as the global energy outlook improved.

Net income in the first three months was 30 percent higher than last year, when the pandemic had just begin to impact world oil demand. The big jump in Aramco profits was also because of higher refining and chemicals margins.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive of Aramco, said: “The momentum provided by the global economic recovery has strengthened energy markets, and Aramco’s operational flexibility, financial agility and the resilience of our employees have contributed to a strong first quarter performance.”

Aramco has again stuck to the pledge it made at the time of its record-breaking initial public offering in late 2019 by paying a big dividend — some $18.8 billion — for the quarter. “For our customers we remain a supplier of choice, and for our shareholders we continue to deliver an exceptional quarterly dividend,” Nasser added.

The dividend payment is nearly covered by free cash flow of $18.3 billion in the quarter, while Aramco’s gearing ratio — a measure of its indebtedness compared to its assets — was unchanged at 23 percent.

Capital expenditure, which most oil companies have cut back dramatically during the pandemic recession, came to $8.2 billion in the first three months of the year.

Nasser was positive on the outlook for global oil demand as the world economy recovers from the ravages of the pandemic recession.

“Given the positive signs for energy demand in 2021, there are more reasons to be optimistic that better days are coming. And while some headwinds still remain, we are well-positioned to meet the world’s growing energy needs as economies start to recover,” Nasser said.

The oil price has risen by more than a third since the start of the year, giving an immediate boost to Aramco revenues in the quarter, but this has to some extent been offset by big OPEC+ output cuts, backed up by additional voluntary reductions by Saudi Arabia.

Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, had another good day on international markets, rising above the $68-a-barrel level.

There are more reasons to be optimistic that better days are coming. And while some headwinds still remain, we are well-positioned to meet the world’s growing energy needs as economies start to recover.

Amin Nasser, Aramco CEO

The company also took a big step toward the diversification of its revenue stream with a multibillion-dollar deal with international investors to securitize revenue from its pipeline operations, and Nasser hinted that there would be further such deals in the future. “We made further progress toward our strategic objectives during the quarter and our portfolio optimization program continues to identify value-creation opportunities, such as the recent announcement of our landmark $12.4 billion pipeline infrastructure deal,” he said.

He also sees opportunities for growth in the new Shareek initiative in the Kingdom, which seeks to encourage private-sector partnerships and investments.

Aramco shares — quoted on the Tadawul stock exchange — closed near the top end of their recent range at SR35.65 ($9.51). Some analysts had been expecting first quarter net income of about $19 billion. Oil expert Robin Mills, chief executive of Qamar Energy consultancy, told Arab News: “These are quite solid results, which beat estimates and with no big surprises. The free cash flow is almost covering the dividend and is likely to do so in the second quarter as volumes recover.”

Average total hydrocarbon production came to 11.5 million barrels per day of oil equivalent in the first quarter, including 8.6 million barrels per day of crude oil.

Aramco also announced that it had planted 500,000 trees in the first quarter, to hit its target of planting one million trees in an initiative to mitigate desertification, sequester carbon and enhance native biodiversity, along international environmental guidelines.


TunisAir first foreign carrier to resume flights to Libya, after 7 years hiatus

TunisAir first foreign carrier to resume flights to Libya, after 7 years hiatus
Updated 18 May 2021

TunisAir first foreign carrier to resume flights to Libya, after 7 years hiatus

TunisAir first foreign carrier to resume flights to Libya, after 7 years hiatus
  • The Tunisian company’s last flight to Libya was in August 2014

RIYADH: TunisAir has become the first foreign carrier to resume flight to Libya, after a seven-year hiatus due to the tense security situation in the neighboring country.

Two flights landed at Tripoli and Benghazi airports in Eastern Libya on Monday, according to the Central Department of Communication and Foreign Relations, Al Arabiya reported.

To date, international flights have been operated by Libyan companies to Tunis, Istanbul and Alexandria, with no permission to enter European airspace.

The Tunisian company’s last flight to Libya was in August 2014.

Starting from Monday, Tunisian Airlines secures five flights a week to Libya, at the rate of three flights to Tripoli and two to Benghazi.

The number of flights could increase in the coming months to return to its previous levels- an average of one daily trip.


ADNOC invests $318m for smart wells installation

ADNOC invests $318m for smart wells installation
Updated 18 May 2021

ADNOC invests $318m for smart wells installation

ADNOC invests $318m for smart wells installation
  • This will sustain a 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) production capacity at ADNOC’s largest onshore asset

RIYADH: The Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), announced today, an investment of up to $318 million to connect newly drilled smart wells to the main production facilities at Bu Hasa, WAM reported.

This will sustain a 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) production capacity at ADNOC’s largest onshore asset.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract has been awarded in two packages by ADNOC’s subsidiary, ADNOC Onshore. 

Package 1 is valued at up to $158.6 million  and has been awarded to China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co. Ltd, while Package 2, with a value of up to $159.1 million has been awarded to Robt Stone (ME) LLC. 

The duration of the contracts is three years, with the option of a two-year extension.

The EPC contract will see up to 260 conventional and non-conventional smart wells installed, which enable remote operations. 

"This EPC award demonstrates how ADNOC is leveraging advanced technologies, such as smart wells with state-of-the-art remote capabilities, to drive higher performance from our assets and resources, and to generate additional value," said ADNOC Upstream Executive Director, Yaser Saeed Almazrouei.

"The award underpins our strategic objectives to expand production capacity and create a more profitable upstream business with over half of the contract value flowing back into the UAE’s economy, supporting local businesses and stimulating economic growth, " he added.

Two sources told Reuters on Monday that ADNOC has started virtual meetings with potential investors ahead of the planned initial public offering (IPO) of its drilling units.


Kingdom Holding leads post-Eid Tadawul trading surge

Kingdom Holding leads post-Eid Tadawul trading surge
Updated 18 May 2021

Kingdom Holding leads post-Eid Tadawul trading surge

Kingdom Holding leads post-Eid Tadawul trading surge
  • This is despite the fact the company in March reported a net loss after Zakat

RIYADH: A total of 56 companies listed on the Saudi Exchange (Tadawul) were trading above their three-month averages on Tuesday, as the bourse reopened this week following the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.

Leading the pack was Kingdom Holding, the company controlled by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

According to data compiled by financial website Argaam, Kingdom Holding was trading 418 percent higher than its three-month trading average.

This is despite the fact the company in March reported a net loss after Zakat and tax of SR1.46 billion ($390 million) for 2020, compared with a profit of SR420.2 million the year before, a swing of 449.1 percent.

Second on the list was Etihad Atheeb Telecommunication Company, which was trading at 259 percent above its three-month average.

The telco in February reported a net profit after Zakat and tax of SR102.6 million for the nine months ending on Dec. 31 last year, compared with a loss of SR62.49 million for the same period in 2019, a swing of 264 percent.

Etihad Atheeb resumed trading on Tadawul on Feb. 14 after it was previously suspended in July 2018 for not disclosing financial results.

In total, 17 companies saw a triple digit percentage trading surge. Ranked third was Saudi Printing, up 215 percent, followed by the Al Abdullatif Industrial Investment Co (up 205 percent) and the Saudi Arabian Mining Company – Maaden (up 190 percent).

Tadawul closed for the Eid Al-Fitr holiday on May 10, with trading resuming a week later on May 17.


Saudi Arabia to help Sudan cut IMF debt

Saudi Arabia to help Sudan cut IMF debt
Updated 18 May 2021

Saudi Arabia to help Sudan cut IMF debt

Saudi Arabia to help Sudan cut IMF debt
  • The Kingdom announced during the Paris Conference on Monday a $20 million grant to cover part of Sudan’s financing gap with the IMF

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia aims to support Sudan’s efforts to reduce its International Monetary Fund debts.
The Kingdom announced during the Paris Conference on Monday a $20 million grant to cover part of Sudan’s financing gap with the IMF, Al Arabiya reported.
Saudi Arabia also said it would also help the country deal with its arrears.
A Saudi official involved in debt restructuring talks for Sudan said that the Kingdom would encourage creditors to reach a broad agreement to reduce the African country’s $50 billion debt pile.
International Monetary Fund figures show that Saudi Arabia is the third largest creditor to Sudan, with about $4.6 billion outstanding.
Sudan is eligible for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
The two-day Paris Conference to support Sudan comes as France writes off billions of dollars in Sudan debt.
“Reducing Sudan’s debt, which we are about to embark on, is a first result of reforms. This trend should be cemented, both economically and politically,” the French President said at the opening of the conference.
One of the goals of the Paris conference is to garner interest in investment in the country.
Billions of dollars in projects in energy, mining, infrastructure and agriculture will be proposed, said Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs Khalid Omar Youssef.
“Sudan is a very rich country. We do not want charity, we want investments,” said Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok.


Bahrain probes $1.3bn Iranian money laundering network

Bahrain probes $1.3bn Iranian money laundering network
Updated 18 May 2021

Bahrain probes $1.3bn Iranian money laundering network

Bahrain probes $1.3bn Iranian money laundering network
  • Attorney General Ali bin Fadl Al-Buainain said the alleged offenses took place between 2008 and 2012

RIYADH: Bahrain’s attorney general said that public prosecutors had uncovered a $1.3 billion money laundering racket linked to officials at Future Bank and other Iranian institutions — including its central bank.
Attorney General Ali bin Fadl Al-Buainain said the alleged offenses took place between 2008 and 2012.
Al-Buainain said that Future Bank officials, together with other Iranian bank officials and the Central Bank of Iran, were involved in the transfer of money through an unauthorized remittance system, Al Arabiya reported.
Officials concealed the source of the funds to enable banks that included Iran’s Melli Bank and Bank Saderat Iran, to complete transfers which would have otherwise been blocked.
Al-Buainain alleged that Future Bank and its controlling shareholders were involved in systematic and widespread violations of banking laws in Bahrain.