Low prices hit ExxonMobil and Chevron earnings
LOW crude prices and weak refining margins weighed on third-quarter profits at US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. But the heavy impact of the industry’s slump on company performance may have bottomed out, as earnings rose compared with the prior two quarters at both.
ExxonMobil notched a 37.5 percent decline in profits to US$2.7 billion while Chevron disclosed a 36.8pc fall to $1.3 billion.
Chevron shares surged on its first profit after three successive quarters in the red, while Exxon retreated after it warned it may be forced to slash its economically viable petroleum reserves estimate by nearly 20pc due to low oil prices.
Net earnings fell sharply in both Exxon’s upstream division, which explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas, and its downstream division, which processes crude into gasoline and other petroleum products.
Exxon said it could remove 4.6 billion barrels from its viable reserves accounting, with the bulk from the Kearl oil sands project in Canada, a region hit hard by the slump in oil prices. The firm is undertaking a broader review of its assets that could require write-downs.
The move comes as Exxon faces an investigation in New York state for not writing down assets due to the oil price crash, a decision that allowed it to report profits while rivals such as Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell reported losses.
Exxon is also reportedly being probed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over its financial statements and its accounting of the potential impact of climate change mitigation policies.
While Exxon’s report raised fresh questions, rival Chevron at last pointed to progress after a lengthy slump. Earnings fell in both upstream and downstream divisions reported, but the oil giant managed to turn a profit.