Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant Aramco said its net profits fell to $US49 billion ($A63 billion) last year, nearly half of what they were in 2019.

The company, which is the biggest oil producer in the world, announced its annual financial results for the year ending on December 31 in a statement on Sunday.

It said the 44.4 per cent drop primarily reflects the impact of lower crude oil prices and volumes sold, as well as weaker margins in refining and chemicals.

However, the company said it will distribute cash dividends totalling $US18.76 billion dollars ($A24.25 billion) to shareholders for the fourth quarter of 2020.

The company said its full earnings for 2020 “demonstrates its leadership and agility during a challenging year”.

In a video released by Aramco, president and chief executive Amin Nasser commended how the company continued its operations in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just over a year ago, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic across the globe … multiple industries were impacted … businesses were closed and millions of jobs disappeared,” he said.

“Against this backdrop, Aramco’s operations continued without interruption as we provided energy for our customers around the world safely and reliably.”

Oil giant Aramco sees huge 44% profit drop
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