Maxim Shemetov | Reuters
Saudi state oil giant Aramco posted a 23% drop in net profit in the third quarter to Sept. 30, down to $32.6 billion attributable to “the impact of lower crude oil prices and volumes sold,” the company said Tuesday.
The third-quarter net profit result marked a steep decline from $42.4 billion the same time last year, but still beat analyst estimates near $31.8 billion.
Free cash flow for the company was slashed to $20.3 billion, less than half of what it was in the third quarter of 2022 at $45 billion.
Aramco still upheld its dividend payout of $29.4 billon to investors and the Saudi government. Of that amount, $19.5 billion constitutes the base dividend payout, to be paid in the fourth quarter, and a further $9.9 billion constitutes the performance-linked dividend.
The $9.9 billion distribution is “to be paid in Q4 based on combined full-year 2022 and nine-month 2023 results,” the company’s earnings release said.
Capital expenditure increased to $11.02 billion for this quarter from $9.03 billion in the third quarter of last year. Aramco’s expansions include finalizing an agreement on its first international liquified natural gas (LNG) investment, and its “plan to enter South American market through a downstream retail acquisition,” the company said.
The drop in profitability this year has been in line with industry trends, with energy majors like ExxonMobil and Chevron seeing sharp annual declines in the third quarter, as weaker oil prices filter through the sector.
Saudi Arabia, as the leading producer and kingpin of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has been implementing multiple production cuts, both as part of the formal OPEC policy and as individual voluntary declines. It is continuing a voluntary cut in oil output of 1 million barrels per day until the year’s end and will revisit this production strategy again in December.
“Our robust financial results reinforce Aramco’s ability to generate consistent value for our shareholders, and we continue to identify new opportunities to evolve our business and meet the needs of customers,” Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser said in an accompanying statement.
In August, Fortune magazine ranked Aramco as the world’s second biggest company by revenue, behind only Walmart and ahead of Apple and Amazon. The ranking followed Aramco’s annual profit announcement for 2022 at over $160 billion — the highest ever recorded for a publicly-listed company — when oil prices were at multi-year high thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.