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Saudi Aramco record profits should be ploughed into renewables, says rights group

Riyadh's state oil company posted profits of $161.1bn on Monday as it continues to benefit from high energy prices
A security guard outside Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing plant, 20 September 2019 (AFP)

Amnesty International has called for the "shocking" profits accrued by Saudi Aramco to be ploughed into the global transition to renewable energy.

The state oil company posted on Monday profits of $161.1bn as it continues to reap the benefits of high energy prices, inflated by the war in Ukraine.

The company - currently the world's second most valuable after Apple - said in a filing with the Saudi stock market that net income for 2022 was up 46 percent from $110bn in 2021.

The results are the strongest since Aramco became a listed company in 2019.

The company said the increase was "predominantly due to the impact of higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, and stronger refining margins".

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Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard slammed the news and criticised continued profit-making off fossil fuels, the main driver of the climate crisis.

"It is all the more shocking because this surplus was amassed during a global cost-of-living crisis and aided by the increase in energy prices resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine," she said in a statement.

“It is past time that Saudi Arabia acted in humanity’s interest and supported the phasing out of the fossil fuel industry, which is essential for preventing further climate harm.”

From Doha to Riyadh, Gulf monarchies' coffers have been buoyed by rising energy prices.

However, their leaders are trying to position their economies for the day when oil and gas lose their primacy in global markets.

Saudi Arabia's energy minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, famously vowed the kingdom would be "the last man standing" in the oil market and extract "every molecule of hydrocarbon" it possesses before they become worthless.

Saudi Arabia has embraced cleaner energy at home as a way to free up more fossil fuels for export at high prices abroad.

The kingdom has also positioned itself as a more favourable destination for energy companies with less red tape and regulations than the West.

Aramco, for its part, has pledged to achieve "operational net-zero" carbon emissions by 2050.

Callamard said Aramco's profits should "fund a just and human rights-based transition to renewable energy and further improve the lives of ordinary Saudi Arabians.”

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