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Aramco reassesses priorities

An income squeeze is forcing upstream delays and a reappraisal of the company’s downstream portfolio

The revelation by state oil heavyweight Saudi Aramco in early August that second-quarter profits had slumped by almost three-quarters on the back of the oil price collapse and its deep production cut response was accompanied by similarly predictable news that capex would end up at the southern end of guidance. Spending had already been lowered to $25-30bn in March. Two weeks after the results were released, the company announced the creation of a new division dedicated to “portfolio optimisation”—signalling the intent to review its increasingly sprawling and internationalised downstream business and potentially also to consider the partial asset sales mooted by its chairman six months befor

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