Oil giant Saudi Aramco, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., said Sunday its profits zoomed more than 80% in the year’s first quarter. 

Last week, the company overtook technology giant Apple to become the world’s most valuable company. Aramco said it would pay an $18.8bn (£15.3bn) dividend and hand $4bn (£3.2bn) in bonus shares to its investors after the better-than-expected performance.

“Against the backdrop of increased volatility in global markets, we remain focused on helping meet the world’s demand for energy that is reliable, affordable and increasingly sustainable,” President and CEO Amin H. Nasser said, pointing out that Aramco is increasing its production capacity in anticipation of the increase in global demand.

The Saudi government remains the company’s biggest shareholder with a stake of more than 94%. As part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s plan to restructure the economy by 2030, the Saudi government is also looking to monetize the country’s vast oil assets and use the proceeds to invest in industries other than oil. Saudi Arabia announced earlier this year that it transferred Aramco shares worth about $80 billion to the PIF as part of its efforts to diversify its hydrocarbon-dependent economy.

As a result of rising commodity prices fuelled by the unwinding of Covid-19 restrictions around the world and sanctions against Russia following their invasion of Ukraine, energy companies such as BP and Shell have also posted highest profits in at least a decade.

Strong demand for gas in Asia has also pushed up prices, as have recent cold winters in the northern hemisphere that have depleted supplies. Brent crude prices have jumped by almost 70% since March last year to $107.91 (£87.99) a barrel, despite many corporations exiting their Russian investments.

In the first quarter of this year, Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and OPEC’s de facto leader recorded its fastest economic growth in a decade, with its Gross Domestic Product increasing 9.6% over last year’s first quarter. IMF projects an economic expansion of 7.6% for the kingdom this year.