Oil giant Saudi Aramco reported a 30 jump in net income Tuesday, in a sign of a continued recovery from the previous years oil market crash that saw fullyear earnings for the state firm slashed in half. In a release published Tuesday, the company said net income rose to 21.7 billion in the first three months of the year, up from 16.6 billion in the same period last year.
It beat some analysts estimates of 17.24 billion, despite lower oil production in February and March. The figure nears the firms net income level in the first quarter of 2019, which was 22.2 billion. The company said free cash flow in the first quarter of 2021 was 18.3 billion, up from 15 billion over the same period last year.
Saudi Arabias behemoth oil producer also maintained its dividend, with 18.8 billion due to be paid out in both the first and second quarter. The earnings reflect a dramatically improved climate for oil markets since the first quarter of last year, when Aramco reported a 25 fall in net income as it grappled with the initial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and cratering global demand.
Aramco has been in talks to raise cash from other asset sales as well, including the 12.4 billion sale of its pipeline unit that could possibly free up cash to pay down debt. In midApril, the company penned a the deal to sell a 49 stake in its pipelines to EIG Global Energy Partners, a U.S.led consortium.