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Amin Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco. Photo: -/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Aramco plans to cut 2020 spending by billions of dollars below last year's levels as the spread of the novel coronavirus craters global oil consumption and pushes down prices.

Why it matters: Aramco is the world's largest oil-producing company. Sunday's announcement underscores how COVID-19 and the oil market's upheaval is affecting the energy landscape.

The big picture: The company said capital spending this year would range from $25 billion to $30 billion. That's down from almost $33 billion last year and, as Bloomberg notes, a sharp revision from prior plans to spend $35 billion–$40 billion in 2020.

  • “The recent COVID-19 outbreak and its rapid spread illustrate the importance of agility and adaptability in an ever-changing global landscape," president and CEO Amin Nasser said in a statement alongside Aramco's 2019 financial results.

By the numbers: Aramco on Sunday said its full-year profit in 2018 was $88 billion, compared to $111 billion the previous year.

  • That's "primarily due to lower crude oil prices and production volumes," though declining margins in its refining and chemicals business played a role too, the company said.
  • Nonetheless, Reuters points out that Aramco "remains the world’s most profitable company, beating Western oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp, and Apple Inc, which made $55 billion in its last financial year that ended in September."

What's next: Aramco, which began selling shares on the Saudi's domestic stock exchange last year, is cutting prices and planning to boost oil supplies to the market this year.

  • Those plans follow this month's collapse of OPEC's joint production-limiting agreement with Russia, which is prompting a push for market share at lower prices.

Go deeper: Saudi Aramco’s profits slip as oil prices Fall (New York Times)

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
50 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.