Saudi Aramco raises dividends despite declining profits

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Saudi Aramco announced a sharp decline in its profits, after the energy giant reduced production and oil prices fell sharply in 2023.

Its profits fell by 25% to $121bn (£91bn) after a record year in 2022.

But this figure is still the second highest profit ever for the state-backed company.

The company said it was boosting its payouts to shareholders and looking for investment opportunities in China.

Dividends will increase to $98 billion, an increase of nearly a third compared to 2022, when it posted record profits of $161 billion, thanks to the impact of Russia's war in Ukraine on energy prices. Oil prices reach $130 per barrel in 2022

The Saudi state owns approximately 95% of the company, and thus the abundant profits led to achieving a surplus in the Kingdom’s budget in 2022.

In 2023, oil prices fall to $85 per barrel. Furthermore, Saudi Aramco has reduced its production to help support oil prices, posing an additional challenge to earnings.

“In 2023, we achieved the second-highest net income ever. Our flexibility and agility contributed to healthy cash flows and high levels of profitability, despite a backdrop of economic headwinds,” Amin Nasser, Aramco’s CEO, said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia aims to diversify the country's economy, using income from the energy sector to finance the transition.

Al-Nasser said that the company will make some announcements this year regarding renewable energy investments in Saudi Arabia.

“So far we are in early 2024, demand is healthy and increasing in China,” Al-Nasser told reporters.

Saudi Aramco already has investments in Chinese refineries.

He said he expects the oil market to be “fairly strong” in 2024 with demand rising slightly from last year.

He added that discussions are underway regarding a share in the partnership with French automaker Renault and Chinese Geely, which manufacture hybrid car engines.

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