Global Oil & Gas: The World’s Most Profitable Oil Major

Saudi OilFor decades, giant Aramco has been a financial enigma, but the curtains have now been pulled back thanks to some anonymous sources revealed to Bloomberg.

Analysts and traders have for decades tried their hand at figuring out the size of Aramco. From its oil reserves to profit, to breakevens per barrel—it has managed to keep the information away from an eager public.

But now, sources presumably close to the small Aramco in-crowd have revealed that H1 2017 net income came in at a whopping $33.8 billion for the oil giant. This figure exceeds that of even Apple, which took in $28.9 billion during that same timeframe.

While information was not forthcoming regarding Saudi Aramco’s oil reserves, sources did share that cash from operations (adjusted cash flow) for H1 2017 was $52.1 billion, with $14.7 billion capex, and $13 billion dividend—the latter a critical metric, and more than twice that of Exxon’s. But when it comes to comparison to other oil majors, even more disparate was Aramco’s net debt, which came in at just $1.3 billion compared to Exxon’s $37.9 billion and Shell’s $66.4 billion.

Aramco’s financials have been a hot topic as many eye the future—if ever—public listing of 5 percent of the company on a foreign exchange—a listing that could generate $100 billion if Aramco’s own valuation holds true. Aramco has insisted that its reserves support a $2 trillion valuation, despite many analyst opinions that have offered a more sober figure for the giant’s valuation of anywhere between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion.

Using “a rough measure of total oil, condensate and gas production” from Bloomberg, Aramco spent less than $4 per barrel to extract its hydrocarbons. The same rough estimate calculate Shell and Exxon’s spend per barrel at around $20, by comparison.

By Julianne Geiger for

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