Exxon delivers record first-quarter profit on higher output

(Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) on Friday reported a record first-quarter profit that was more than double a year ago and topped Wall Street estimates as rising oil and gas output overcame a pullback in energy prices from high levels.

Oil companies are riding a wave of strong demand and cost-cutting tied to efforts to counter COVID-19 lockdowns three years ago.

“We delivered a first-quarter record despite the fact that energy prices and refining margins are softening a bit,” Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Mikells said in an interview.

The biggest contributor to the better-than-expected earnings came from strong production growth, she said. Exxon’s quarter was driven by new volumes of crude oil and fuels from the startup of new offshore developments and refining facilities.

Net profit rose to $11.43 billion, or $2.79 per share, compared to $5.48 billion a year ago that included a $3.4 billion after-tax writedown to exit Russia. Results beat consensus by 9%, according to REFINITIV data.

Shares were up 0.5% in pre-market trading.

Exxon’s oil and gas production rose to the most since 2019 to 3.83 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed), up by 160,000 boed from the previous quarter.

The increased output reflects a rise in production from the Permian Basin and Guyana, where it turned on a second production platform last year that added about 240,000 bpd to output. Higher volumes partially offset a 16% drop in oil prices from a year ago.

First-quarter results also reflect the expansion of Exxon’s fuels production. The company finished the startup of a new crude processing unit last quarter at its Beaumont, Texas, plant that added 250,000 bpd of oil refining capacity.

The producer ended the first quarter with $32.7 billion in cash, but it has no urge to tap it for mergers or acquisitions, Mikells said.

Exxon would be open to deals that could offer synergies and drive good returns for shareholders, she said. But it is focused on increasing production in the Permian, in Guyana and in the Beaumont refinery expansion, among others, Mikells said.

“Our focus is really making sure that we are executing those organic opportunities.”

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