The state-backed Saudi oil giant said on Sunday that its 2020 profits had fallen to $ 49 billion (£ 35 billion) as the coronavirus pandemic shook global energy markets.
Saudi Arabian Oil Co released its financial results a year after the pandemic dropped the price of oil to record highs as people stopped moving around the world to stem the spread of the virus.
In recent weeks, however, the price has risen slightly as movement restrictions relax, trade increases and more people get vaccinated against Covid-19.
But analysts warn that a peak in demand could still be a long way off.
Despite the sharp drop in oil revenues, Aramco said it will keep its promise to pay quarterly dividends of $ 18.75 billion (£ 13.5 billion) – $ 75 billion (£ 54) per year – due to the commitments made by the company to the shareholders in view of its initial public offering.
Almost all of the dividend money goes to the Saudi government, which owns over 98% of the company.
Public figures, mandatory since the company listed part of its stock on Riyadh’s Tadawul Stock Exchange in 2019, offer valuable insight into the health of the region’s largest economy.
Despite Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to diversify the economy away from oil, the kingdom remains heavily dependent on oil exports to fuel government spending.
Saudi Aramco’s profit of $ 49 billion (£ 35 billion) in 2020 is down from $ 88.2 billion (£ 64 billion) in 2019 and $ 111.1 billion (80 , £ 1 billion) in 2018.