Saudi Aramco has reported a record $161bn (£134bn) profit for 2022, the largest annual profit ever recorded by an oil and gas company, fuelled by soaring energy prices and rising global demand.
The largely state-owned company’s profits rose by 46% year on year and it made more than the recent bumper results reported by Shell, BP, Exxon and Chevron combined.
“Aramco delivered record financial performance in 2022, as oil prices strengthened due to increased demand around the world,” said Amin Nasser, the chief executive of Saudi Aramco, which is listed on the Riyadh stock exchange.
The world’s biggest oil company, which is 95%-owned by the Saudi Arabian government, declared a $19.5bn dividend after its fourth-quarter trading.
Its board has also recommended the issuance of bonus shares, with investors receiving an extra share for every 10 they currently own.
While oil and gas companies are enjoying bumper results because of the impact of factors such as the war in Ukraine – with bosses taking home “jaw dropping” pay packages as a result – Saudi Aramco’s performance dwarfs its rivals.
The company’s profits for last year are almost triple that of Exxon’s $56bn and more than four times that of Shell ($39.9bn), Chevron ($36.5bn) and BP ($27.7bn), most of which are also performing at record levels.
Saudi Aramco, which is the world’s second most valuable publicly listed company after Apple, said its results were “underpinned by stronger crude oil prices, higher volumes sold and improved margins for refined products”.
Brent crude oil, the benchmark oil price, has fallen back to $82 a barrel, having hit $120 a barrel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The company reaffirmed it would continue to invest to increase its maximum potential production capacity to 13m barrels a day by 2027.
Capital expenditure rose by 18% to $37.6bn last year, and is expected to increase to between $45bn and $55bn in the coming years, the company said.
“Our focus is not only on expanding oil, gas and chemicals production but also investing in new lower-carbon technologies with potential to achieve additional emission reductions in our own operations and for end users of our products,” Nasser said.
Amnesty International said Saudi Aramco’s profits were “shocking”, and should be used to fund a “human-rights-based” transition to renewable energy.
“It is shocking for a company to make a profit of more than $161bn in a single year through the sale of fossil fuel – the single largest driver of the climate crisis,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general. “It is all the more shocking because this surplus was amassed during a global cost of living crisis and aided by the increase in energy prices resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
“It is past time that Saudi Arabia acted in humanity’s interest and supported the phasing out of the fossil fuel industry, which is essential for preventing further climate harm.”