Exxon Mobil recorded a $5.7 billion profit in the fourth quarter, off 5 percent from a year earlier because of weaker sales and pricing in its petrochemical and refining divisions.
Buoyed by the sale of its Norwegian North Sea assets and the beginning of its oil production in the waters off Guyana in December, Exxon still saw its full-year earnings in 2019 plunge by more than 30 percent from 2018.
Exxon Mobil reported a year-end net profit of $14.3 billion versus $20.8 billion in 2018.
Much of that decline was a result of increased spending as Exxon pumped billions of dollars into driving oil-production from the small South American nation and from West Texas’ Permian Basin, where Exxon is the most active driller.
Exxon’s capital spending jumped more than 20 percent to $31 billion last year from nearly $26 billion in 2018.
Despite short-term declines in refining and chemicals profit margins, Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods said the company had a positive quarter overall.
Exxon last month had warned that weakness in those segments would drag down its profits.
Exxon Mobil’s oil and gas production remained essentially flat in the fourth quarter.
A nearly 5 percent dip in natural gas production was offset by a 4 percent jump in crude oil volumes, driven by growth in the Permian.
One other factor for weaker refining profits was additional downtime at Exxon’s refining and petrochemical complex in Beaumont, which is undergoing a major expansion.
Despite Exxon Mobil’s growth, the company has been punished on Wall Street with its stock near its lowest value since 2010 as the nation’s largest energy company deals with weaker oil and gas and petrochemical prices, increased spending and a souring investment sentiment on the broader energy sector.
Last year, Exxon fell out of the S&P 500 stock index’s list of 10 largest companies for the first time.
The company still has a market value of about $275 billion. Rivals Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell still lag behind with values of more than $210 billion.
This article first appeared on the Houston Chronicle – an Energy Voice content partner. For more from the Houston Chronicle click here.