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Saudi Arabia ‘blessed’ by war, its oil giant is now worth more than Apple

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The oil giant Saudi Aramco, a state-owned company in Saudi Arabia, recorded an 82% increase in profits in the first quarter of 2022. A result that catapulted the hydrocarbon company to the top of the world ranking by market capitalization, with a resounding overtaking on the American Apple. An exploit due to the global increase in oil prices, in turn caused by the war in Ukraine. A real blessing for the Saudi economy.

The record profits of the Riyadh company are in fact the result of a careful strategy of capitalization of the current geopolitical context. Saudi Arabia – the undisputed leader of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – since the invasion of Ukraine has rejected US appeals for oil-rich states to increase sales of barrels of crude oil for offset Russian exports.

The White House strategy is easy to understand: increasing the circulation of oil on the global market is the precondition for a ban on the import of crude oil from Russia, which would deal a severe blow to the Moscow economy, without generating a price boom. On the other hand, if Western countries stopped buying oil from Russia without an increase in the supply of other exporting states, the cost of fuel would rise. The latter scenario would allow Moscow to redirect the sales of oil barrels not bought by the West at higher rates and therefore continue to finance the war in Ukraine thanks to global consumption.

OPEC, therefore Saudi Arabia, responded spades to the US appeals, causing the price of oil, now firmly above 100 dollars, to skyrocket up to 139 dollars a barrel. These increases brought a net profit of 39.5 billion dollars to Aramco’s coffers in the first three months of 2022, almost double compared to the 21.7 billion dollars of the same period of the previous year. An improvement in balance sheets “mainly driven by the increase in crude oil prices and volumes sold,” explained the company in a statement.

Record collections that have allowed the Saudis of Aramco, with an estimated share value of around 2.42 trillion dollars, to oust the Americans of Apple from the throne of the global economy, who have had to settle – so to speak – with the second placed among listed companies, with a value of 2.37 trillion dollars.

Saudi Arabia’s no to Joe Biden’s US presidency appeals for an increase in production to compensate for Russian oil testifies to the bad relationship between the current American administration and the leaders of Riyadh. However, the possible stop to EU oil imports from Russia – foreseen in the proposal Commission by early 2023 – would push Brussels to join Washington’s appeals. A scenario that will leave Riyadh with the choice between continuing to grind record profits or increasing its influence in international politics. And it is not certain that the Saudis will not be able to bring home both results.

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