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Oil giant that’s the ‘planet’s biggest polluter’ overtakes Apple to become world’s richest company

Samuel Webb
Thursday 12 May 2022 14:00 BST
Rishi Sunak says he is 'pragmatic' about windfall tax on oil and gas

Saudi Aramco – the biggest corporate polluter in the world – has dethroned Apple as the globe’s most valuable company thanks to a surge in oil prices.

The Saudi Arabian national petroleum and natural gas company, billed as the largest oil-producing company in the world, was valued at $2.42 trillion based on the price of its shares at the close of market.

Apple, meanwhile, has seen its share price drop over the past month and was valued at $2.37 trillion when official trading ended yesterday, according to AFP.

Aramco is the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter, according to environmental charity ClientEarth, and is estimated to be responsible for more than four per cent of the entire world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1965.

The political stability of the six Gulf states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — is rooted in profits from fossil fuels. This includes exports that energy-hungry China and India will want even more over the next two decades.

“Climate action, it’s almost an existential problem for an absolute monarchy based on oil exports,” said Jim Krane, author of Energy Kingdoms: Oil and Political Survival in the Persian Gulf 

“They need climate action to succeed without wrecking the oil market. That’s a tough needle to thread.”

Gulf Arab states are privately and publicly advocating for carbon capture technologies rather than a rapid phasing out of fossil fuels, warning that a hurried transition would leave poorer populations without access to energy.

Greenpeace has criticised the approach, saying these “yet unproven” carbon capture technologies allow nations to emit more greenhouse gases on the optimistic assumption they can be drawn out of the atmosphere later.

Aramco recently reported a 124 per cent net profit surge for last year, hours after Yemeni rebels attacked its facilities causing a "temporary" drop in production.

As the world economy started to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, Aramco’s net income increased by 124 per cent to $110.0 billion in 2021, compared to $49.0 billion in 2020, the company said.

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