Saudi Aramco’s net profits surged to their highest post-listing level in Q3 as the rapid uptick in global oil prices strengthened the energy giant’s balance sheet. At $30.43bn for Q3, net profits have nearly tripled over the past year.

Strong earnings generated a similarly high $28.70bn free cash flow, which was easily sufficient to cover the firm’s $18.75bn dividend commitment (see chart 1). Free cash flow has now met the dividend for two consecutive quarters. But, despite free cash flow outstripping the dividend by nearly $10bn for Q3, Aramco opted against boosting payouts to its shareholders. With the government by far the largest Aramco shareholder with its 98.3% stake, Aramco’s dividends are a key source of state revenue (MEES, 5 November). The Q3 dividend of $18.75bn will be distributed on 22 November, bringing total 2021 distributions to $75bn. (CONTINUED - 728 WORDS)