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Saudi Aramco chief sounds optimistic over oil demand rise

The head of Saudi Aramco said Monday he was optimistic that the global demand for oil was growing as the worst of the coronavirus pandemic “might be behind us”.

Amin Nasser told reporters through a video conference that global demand for crude oil currently stands at around 90 million barrels per day, just 10 million barrels short of the pre-pandemic level.

“At year-end demand is expected to be in the mid-90s,” Aramco’s chief executive added.

Demand for oil was hit hard by the world-wide shutdowns to counter the pandemic, sliding at one stage by over 20 million bpd.

“While it remains unclear how long the current wave of uncertainty will continue, we see growing evidence that the worst of the crisis might be behind us,” Nasser said.

“We are witnessing a partial recovery in the energy market in the second half of 2020 as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies.”

Nasser described the second quarter performance as the worst in generations.

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second quarter has proven to be the most challenging economic period in generations with most industries suffering severe disruptions,” Nasser said.

Aramco, the world’s leading energy company, posted a massive 73 percent slump in its second quarter net profit on Sunday due to low oil prices and production.

In the three months to June 30, the company posted a net profit of $6.6 billion compared to $24.7 million in the same period of 2019.

Aramco’s net profit in the first six months of the year also plunged 50 percent to $23.2 billion compared to $46.9 billion in the corresponding period of last year.

Nasser said the company will cut capital spending in the coming years and in 2021, it will be “significantly lower” than the previously announced figures.

But he insisted that the company will go ahead with plans to raise its maximum sustained capacity to 13 million bpd from 12 million bpd currently.

Nasser said Aramco can maintain the 12 million capacity for one year without any additional spending.

Oil production by the world’s top crude exporter has dropped to 7.5 million bpd compared to an average output of 10 million bpd last year after the OEPC+ alliance began record high cuts in May.