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A view shows branded oil tanks at Saudi

By Hadeel Al Sayegh, Saeed Azhar and Alexander Cornwell

Earnings by global energy companies such as Exxon Mobil have increased on the back of crude oil prices, which have risen by about a third this year, as a global oil surplus caused by the pandemic dwindles and fuel demand recovers.

“Given the positive signs for energy demand in 2021, there are more reasons to be optimistic that better days are coming,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement.

“And while some headwinds still remain, we are well-positioned to meet the world’s growing energy needs as economies start to recover.”

Net income rose to $21.7 billion for the quarter to March 31 from $16.7 billion a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a net profit of $19.48 billion, according to the mean estimate from five analysts.

Aramco said the profit was primarily driven by a stronger oil market and higher refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by lower production.

The OPEC+ group, the alliance of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other leading oil producers including Russia, decided last month to stick to its previously approved action plan to ease output curbs further from May.

Aramco declared a dividend of $18.8 billion for the first quarter, to be paid in the second quarter, in line with company guidance of a $75 billion dividend for this year.

Aramco average total hydrocarbon production came in at 11.5 million barrels per day of oil equivalent in the first quarter of 2021, including 8.6 million barrels per day of crude oil.

(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh, Alexander Cornwell, Saeed Azhar; editing by Jason Neely and Richard Pullin)

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