Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, said Sunday that its profits for the third quarter nearly tripled compared with the period a year earlier, as demand for the fuel recovers from the pandemic and prices soar.
Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, said that net income was $30.4 billion for the July-to-September period, up from $11.8 billion a year ago when demand for oil collapsed and prices tumbled.
The huge profits are largely a reflection of rapid increases in oil prices. Aramco’s statement did not give full financial details, but it is likely to have received about $70 a barrel on average for its oil in the quarter compared with $43.60 a barrel in the same period in 2020.
Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries cut output sharply in response to the fall in demand as the pandemic slowed driving, air travel and other activities. Now these countries are ramping up production but at a pace that is frustratingly slow in the view of some critics, including the Biden administration.
Aramco said that its crude oil output in the third quarter of 2021 averaged 9.5 million barrels a day, only a modest increase to the 9.2 million barrels a day in the same period in 2020.
In a statement, Amin H. Nasser, Aramco’s chief executive, said he was “optimistic that energy demand will remain healthy for the foreseeable future” despite headwinds like supply chain bottlenecks.
As world leaders gather in Glasgow this week for what is being described as a crucial United Nations climate summit, Aramco’s results are a reminder that the global economy is still hooked on oil. Many forecasters expect demand for oil next year to exceed 2019 prepandemic levels.
While Western oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell and BP are wary of new long-term investments in oil, a few companies, including Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, or ADNOC, are betting that there will be a market for their petroleum for many years to come.
Aramco said it increased capital expenditures by 19 percent in the quarter to $7.6 billion, in part to bolster the amount of oil it can produce to 13 million barrels a day from 12 million barrels a day.
The company, whose shares were listed on the local Tadawul exchange in 2019, will pay an $18.8 billion dividend for the quarter, mostly to the Saudi government.