Saudi Aramco to Sustain High Oil Output

An offshore oil platform associated with the offshore Marjan field.
An offshore oil platform associated with the offshore Marjan field.

Saudi Aramco said on Monday it was likely to sustain higher oil output planned for April through into May. Moreover, it was "very comfortable" with a price of $30 a barrel.

Aramco announced last week it would be raising its output in April to a record 12.3 million bpd.

Sustaining a very low price

"In a nutshell, Saudi Aramco can sustain the very low price for a long time," Chief Executive Amin Nasser said. He also added during a full-year earnings call with investors and analysts, "For the production in May … I doubt it would be any different from next month."

Nasser said that the boost in output and exports would reflect positively on the company despite low oil prices. Aramco has some of the lowest production costs in the world.

CFO Khalid al-Dabbagh said Aramco was "very comfortable" with oil at $30 a barrel. It would still be able to meet its dividend commitments and shareholder expectations at that price.

"We are very comfortable that we can meet our dividend commitment. We are also very comfortable that we can meet our shareholders' expectations at $30 (a barrel) or even lower," he said.

Nasser said Aramco would draw 300,000 bpd from its huge inventories to hit that record supply in April, and could sustain its maximum output of 12 million bpd for a year with no need for further spending. Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, has hundreds of millions of barrels of crude stored.

He also said Aramco was currently evaluating boosting its maximum oil output capacity by another 1 million bpd to 13 million bpd.

Boost production capacity

Saudi Arabia said last week it would launch a program to boost production capacity for the first time in more than a decade.

It also said it plans to cut capital spending in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. While posting a plunge in profit for last year.

Saudi Arabia's decision last year to float shares in its state oil company; the most profitable company in the world, was one of the central elements in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's program for economic and political reform.

The record-setting IPO was touted as making the world's biggest energy exporter more professional and transparent.

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