By Paul Wallace
Saudi Aramco’s profit soared in the first quarter following a recovery in global oil and gas markets, allowing the state-owned company to maintain its dividend.
The world’s biggest energy firm kept its quarterly payout, almost all of which goes to the Saudi Arabian government, at $18.8 billion. The money is a vital source of cash for the kingdom as it tries to narrow a budget deficit that ballooned last year, with the coronavirus pandemic sinking oil prices and shutting down local businesses.
The bumper results follow those last week of Big Oil firms such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, whose earnings are back to pre-pandemic levels.
Aramco’s net income for the quarter was 81.4 billion riyals ($21.7 billion), up 30% year-on-year. Free cash flow was $18.3 billion, almost rising to the level of the dividend.
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