By Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rania El Gamal
DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian state oil group Aramco <2222.SE> on Tuesday reported a 44.6% drop in third-quarter net profit, in line with analysts' estimates, dented by lower crude oil prices and volumes sold as the coronavirus crisis choked demand.
Weaker refining and chemicals margins have also hit the company's net profit, which fell to 44.21 billion riyals ($11.79 billion) for the quarter ended Sept. 30 from 79.84 billion riyals last year.
Analysts had expected a net profit of 44.6 billion riyals in the third quarter, according to the mean estimate from three analysts, provided by Refinitiv.
"We saw early signs of a recovery in the third quarter due to improved economic activity, despite the headwinds facing global energy markets," Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said in a statement.
The company said it would distribute a dividend of $18.75 billion for the third quarter of this year, in line with its plan to pay a base dividend of $75 billion for 2020.
Dividends from the world's top oil producing company play a critical role in helping the Saudi government manage its fiscal deficit.
(Reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Rania El Gamal; Editing by Kim Coghill and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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