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These are uncertain times for the global oil industry, and Aramco's first quarter results show it. Image Credit: Reuters

Riyadh: Energy giant Saudi Aramco saw a 25 per cent slump in first-quarter net profits due to low oil prices, and the coronavirus crisis will dampen demand and earnings in the year ahead. The world's largest listed firm said it posted a net profit of 62.5 billion riyals ($16.66 billion) in the first three months compared to 83.29 billion riyals ($22.2 billion) a year earlier.

Aramco said the results reflected "lower crude oil prices, as well as declining refining and chemicals margins and inventory re-measurement losses".

"We expect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global energy demand and oil prices to weigh on our earnings," Aramco's CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement.

Aramco kept its oil output at around 9.7 million barrels per day during the first three months of the year under an OPEC+ supply cut pact, before opening the oil taps in April after the collapse of earlier supply cut talks in early March.

Brent crude prices fell 65 per cent in the first quarter, before OPEC+ producers agreed to cut oil supply by a record 9.7 million barrel per day starting from May to help shore up prices.

Cashflow, dividends

Aramco's cash flows from operating activities, stood at $22.4 billion in the first quarter, compared to $24.5 billion in the same period of 2019, the company said.

The world's top oil producing company, which went public last year, said total dividends of $13.4 billion were paid in the first quarter. Dividends of $18.75 billion will be paid in the second quarter.

The national oil giant also said plans were on to acquire a stake in Saudi petrochemical maker SABIC for around $70 billion.