What's going on?
In its inaugural half-year update on Monday, state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco reported a 12% lower profit than a year ago. It’s still the world’s most profitable company, mind.
What does this mean?
Oil’s price in the first half of 2019 was lower than for most of 2018, which dented Saudi Aramco’s profits. The oil giant generally makes more money when the oil price is high, since the costs of extraction tend to remain fairly static. Regardless, its profit continued to dwarf its peers’ – and that of the world’s most profitable public company, Apple.
Saudi Aramco, remember, is private. That means the company – which has long been shrouded in secrecy – didn’t have to report earnings at all. But given that Aramco is looking to attract investors for a potential upcoming initial public offering, transparency is in its best interests. Plus, it probably wanted to show off in front of its new bondholders.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Saudiversification.
Saudi Arabia’s economy is heavily reliant on oil. So even though it has more than 50 years’ worth of reserves to fall back on, it’s been trying to diversify. Saudi Aramco looks like it’s following suit, having entered the liquefied natural gas market in May. And on Monday, it announced a move into India, buying a 20% stake in the oil refining business of Reliance Industries for $15 billion. In 2018, Aramco produced 10 million barrels of crude oil per day and refined just half: if it can lift that capacity, it’ll secure more buyers, sell more refined products, and cushion itself against the whims of the oil price.
Zooming out: Oh Tullow there.
On Monday, UK oil exploration company Tullow Oil revealed it’d struck black gold in Guyana – and its shares rose 17%. The new site could yield more than 100 million barrels of oil, and the current price of just one barrel is $58. You do the math…