Saudi oil giant Aramco reports ‘record’ profits in 2022 and draws heavy criticism

Saudi oil giant Aramco on Sunday announced record profits in 2022 thanks to soaring crude prices, drawing criticism amid the climate and energy crisis.

The company, largely owned by the Saudi state, posted a net profit of $161.1 billion last year, or more than 151 billion euros, up 46% year-on-year, a statement said. published on the Ryad Stock Exchange. More than 17 million euros entered the coffers of the company per hour, or 4,788 euros per second.

These are the highest profits for Aramco since listing 1.7% of its shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange in December 2019.

The company’s CEO, Amin Nasser, welcomed the “record financial performance in 2022” due to soaring oil prices, amid a strong recovery in global demand and war in Ukraine.

sharp criticism

As with the majors Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies and PB, which reaped record profits of $151 billion in 2022, Aramco’s results did not fail to make people react.

“It is shocking that a company is making more than $161 billion in profits in one year through the sale of fossil fuels, the main driver of the climate crisis,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard. , in a press release.

“It is all the more shocking that this surplus has been amassed in the midst of a global crisis in the cost of living aggravated by rising energy prices”, a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, has she added.

The human rights organization called on the Gulf monarchy to use these profits, “the largest ever made by a company in a year”, according to it, to finance the energy transition.

The world’s largest exporter of crude has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, without giving up investments in fossil fuels, arousing skepticism from environmental organizations.

Aramco launched in 2022 “the largest investment program in its history”, increasing its capital expenditure by 18% to 37.6 billion dollars, said Amin Nasser in the press release.

Aramco has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero at its industrial sites by 2050. This goal does not take into account emissions produced by consumers of Saudi oil abroad.

Public expenses

While oil prices have fallen since the peaks of 2022, they should remain high this year, supported in particular by the drop in production approved last October by OPEC+, the alliance of exporting countries led by Riyadh and Moscow.

This decision was severely criticized at the time by Washington.

“I don’t expect another record year for Aramco in 2023, but performance should remain strong,” said Robert Mogielnicki of the Arab Gulf States Institute think tank in Washington.

Aramco’s profits have fueled the country’s growth, whose GDP grew by 8.7% in 2022, according to official estimates, the highest rate among G20 countries.

The world’s largest crude oil exporter, which is seeking to diversify its economy to reduce its dependence on oil, welcomed on Thursday the jump in non-hydrocarbon activities in the fourth quarter of 2022, by 6.2% year-on-year, according to the authority. Saudi statistics.

But this growth has been driven by public spending which will “always be linked, to some extent, to oil revenues”, nuanced Justin Alexander, director of the cabinet Khalij Economics, underlining the central role of Aramco in the first economy of the world. Arab World.

Aramco’s oil facilities have suffered drone and missile attacks in recent years claimed by Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, backed by Iran.

But the restoration of diplomatic ties between Ryad and Tehran, announced Friday after seven years of rupture, could make it possible to reduce these risks in the months to come.

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