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The world’s most profitable company is about to go public

The world’s most profitable company is about to go public

Nope. Those two don’t even come close. The answer is Saudi Arabia’s state oil company, Aramco. In 2018, Saudi Aramco made $111 billion dollars in profit. The second-most profitable company, Apple, made $60 billion that year.

On November 3, Aramco officially announced its plan to go public for the first time in the company’s 86-year history. Energy historian Ellen R. Wald joined Today, Explained to explain why Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) is such a big deal.

As the most profitable company in the entire world, she says, the company’s IPO is going to set major records. And since it’s the largest oil company in the world, it’s likely that a lot of everyday things we use — from plastic to the energy fueling our cars — touches this company.

“In the United States,” Wald says as an example, “Aramco owns the largest refinery in the entire country. And it also owns Shell Gasoline Stations in the southeastern United States. So many Americans may be buying oil — or gasoline — that is made by Aramco, and they don’t even know it.”

But some say the timing for the Aramco IPO couldn’t be worse. One reason for that: Some people think that the world has or will soon reach peak oil demand. Another, Wald explains, is the “PR nightmare” that Saudi Arabia created with the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi: