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Saudi Aramco breaks profit record on high energy prices

Saudi Aramco broke its quarterly profit record set in May, as soaring energy prices driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine deliver windfalls to refiners.

Net income at the state-backed group rose to $48.4bn in the second quarter, a 90 per cent year-on-year increase and its greatest earnings since listing in 2019.

The Saudi oil company kept its dividend unchanged at $18.8 billion for the third quarter and said it is progressing on oil and gas expansion.

“While global market volatility and economic uncertainty remain, events during the first half of this year support our view that ongoing investment in our industry is essential,” said Aramco chief executive Amin Nasser in a statement.

The world’s biggest listed oil producers, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, have all posted huge earnings after a surge in commodity prices fuelled by the Ukraine war and a rebound in post-pandemic demand. Most have boosted shareholder payouts.

The high profits are putting increasing political pressure on the oil majors, as high energy prices threaten to spark public blowback. President Joe Biden said in June that Exxon was making “more money than God”.

Brent crude, the international benchmark, has dropped from $120 in June to near $98 on Friday.

Saudi Aramco’s shares, which are listed in Riyadh, have risen more than 25 per cent this year.

US and other Western powers have been pushing to increase oil production to offset high prices at the pump but Opec has warned of the “severely limited availability of excess capacity” after years of under-investment and mismanagement.

Earlier this month, Opec and its allies agreed to one of the smallest oil production increases in the group’s history, with Saudi Arabia working to appease its western allies without using up its unused capacity.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest energy exporter, had said it would increase production only if there was demand.

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