Riyadh: Saudi oil giant Aramco posted first-quarter net profit of 119.54 billion riyals ($31.88 billion) on Tuesday, a fall of about 19 per cent from the previous year.
It said the drop was mainly driven by lower crude prices, although partially offset by lower taxes and zakat and a rise in finance and other income.
Net profit was 3.75 per cent higher than in the fourth-quarter but also below analysts' median forecast of $30.8 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
The world's top oil exporter will pay $19.5 billion in dividends for the first quarter, in line with the previous quarter.
CEO Amin Nasser in a statement said Aramco was looking at introducing performance-linked dividends, in addition to its base distribution.
The additional payouts would target 50 per cent-70 per cent of annual free cash flow, net of the base dividend and other amounts including external investments, it said.
Aramco reached deals to expand its downstream business abroad in the first quarter, including investments in China and completing a $2.76 billion acquisition of Valvoline's products business.
We are also moving forward with our capacity expansion, and our long-term outlook remains unchanged as we believe oil and gas will remain critical components of the global energy mix for the foreseeable future
The company's compression projects at Haradh and Hawiyah fields are expected to begin initial production and achieve full capacity during 2023, it said.
The Saudi Arabian government owns 90 per cent of Aramco’s stock directly, with a further 8 per cent held by the sovereign wealth fund. The shares have climbed 11 per cent this year.