Total, Chevron profits surge on firm oil price
New York, October 29, 2011
Chevron Corp and Total have posted higher quarterly profits, the latest two major oil companies to reap the benefit of firm oil prices and rosier refinery conditions.
The third-quarter profits from Total and Chevron capped a week of earnings figures that saw gains at Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP as benchmark Brent oil prices hover near $112 per barrel, nearly 50 per cent higher than the year-earlier quarter.
Still, oil prices were slightly down from the second quarter of the year, which helped the companies' refineries to post higher margins and profits.
Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company behind Exxon, said its profits more than doubled, helped by a gain of about $500 million from the sale of its Pembroke refinery to Valero Energy Corp.
Total's profits climbed a more modest 24 percent, but met market expectations, as its output fell by 1 percent because of disruptions in Libya.
Chevron also posted a decline in output to 2.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (bpd), down from 2.74 million a year ago.
It July, Chevron had said a slower Gulf of Mexico project ramp-up and a Thai pipeline problem would trim its 2011 production by about 30,000 bpd.
Like their peers, Chevron and Total have struggled to increase oil production in recent years.
Disappointment about the trend has hit oil stocks, and Total has been punished by investors more harshly than its rival -- until a rally that has lifted its stock 27 percent since Sept. 26 when it raised its 2010-15 average output goal to 3 percent per year from 2 percent.
Total has made over $10 billion of acquisitions in the past 18 months, expanding its geographical footprint beyond its historical heartland of Africa to Australia, Canada and Russia.
Shares in Total fell about 2 percent in Friday trading, while Chevron shares climbed less than 1 percent. -Reuters