Saudi energy giant Aramco reported a 30-percent increase in net income for the first quarter of the year to $21.7 billion, boasting free cash flow of $18.3 billion for the period.
The net income result beat analyst estimates of $17.24 billion even though the company reduced its oil production in February and March.
“The momentum provided by the global economic recovery has strengthened energy markets, and Aramco’s operational flexibility, financial agility and the resilience of our employees have contributed to a strong first quarter performance,” chief executive Amin Nasser said. “For our customers we remain a supplier of choice, and for our shareholders we continue to deliver an exceptional quarterly dividend.”
The company declared a first-quarter dividend of $18.8 billion, which will be distributed in the second quarter. It was equal to the dividend distributed during the first quarter.
Aramco reported average daily oil and gas production of 11.5 million barrels of oil equivalent for the three-month period, of which 8.6 million barrels per day was of crude oil.
The Saudi state energy company has been looking for ways to shore up its finances amid the prolonged depression in oil prices despite the rally in recent months after it booked a 50-percent slump in net profits for 2020.
Steps taken so far have included debt issuance, a 49-percent stake sale in its pipeline business to a consortium led by EIG Global Energy Partners for $12.4 billion, and plans to sell stakes in non-strategic oil fields.
Meanwhile, Aramco is reviewing its upstream business. When the review is completed, it could decide to sell stakes in oilfields or enter into partnerships or joint venture agreements to develop and operate new natural gas resources in Saudi Arabia in a bid to monetize its oil and gas resources better and generate the cash the Kingdom needs to finance its ambitious diversification program dubbed Vision 2030.