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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Profits surge at oil companies
Oil workers
Crude prices at 10-year highs have helped oil firms crank up profits
The four largest oil companies in the US have all announced sharply higher profits for the third quarter, helped by some of the strongest crude oil and product prices for a decade.

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly-listed oil company, reported a near doubling of earnings to a record $4.29bn, or $1.22 a share, up from $2.21bn, or 62 cents a share, in the corresponding period last year.

One analyst described the results as "the most profitable quarter ever by any public company".

Chevron, Texaco and Conoco also reported soaring income, as US crude oil prices averaged more than $31 a barrel in the quarter - almost $10 a barrel more than in the third quarter of 1999.

The oil price bonanza (Q3 earnings)
Exxon Mobil, $4.29bn (+94%)
Chevron, $1.65bn (+135%)
Texaco, $815m (+80%)
Conoco, $523m (+100%)
In total, $7.23bn (+101%)
Natural gas prices were also substantially higher in the period, averaging $4.48 per million British thermal units from $2.55.

US crude oil prices on Tuesday remained near recent highs, standing at $33.85 a barrel in early trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Exxon Mobil said it was benefiting from the merging of Mobil into Exxon, which would eventually produce cost savings of $4.6bn a year.

In the third quarter, revenue climbed to $58.9bn from $49bn in the year earlier period.

The number two US company, Chevron, saw earnings increase to $1.65bn, or $2.53 a diluted share, from $702m, or $1.07 a diluted share, last time.

Rival firm Texaco, which recently agreed to be acquired by Chevron, said its profits jumped 80% to a record $815m, or $1.49 a share.

This compared with income of $453m, or 83 cents a share, in the third quarter of 1999.

Number four firm Conoco on Monday said net income for the period totalled $523m, or 83 cents a diluted share, compared with $261m, or 41 cents a share, last time.

Turnover was up 43% at $10.7bn.

No merger pressure

Total production was 4% down on the same period last year at 619,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day but recent discoveries in Vietnam and the Gulf of Mexico would send output higher in the future, Conoco said.

The company said such growth prospects meant it was not under pressure to merge with a rival.

"We are open to it, but are not in position to be forced into it like some of those other companies," chief financial officer Bob Goldman said.

Chevron's takeover of Texaco is set to propel it into fourth spot among the world's listed oil firms, behind Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and the UK's BP.

The world's largest oil company is Saudi Arabia's national outfit Saudi Aramco, which controls more than one quarter of the world's proved oil reserves and produces more than eight million barrels of crude a day.

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