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Exxon flags biggest profit in 13 years due to surging oil prices

© Andrew Harrer/Bloombergexxon dividend

Exxon Mobil signaled its highest profit since 2008 as Russia’s war in Ukraine upended global commodity markets.

Exxon’s announcement that first-quarter results may have reached almost $11 billion augurs booming profits across the oil industry as trade sanctions, shipping disruptions and surging demand strain supply lines.

The windfall doesn’t come without risks, however. Political leaders are under pressure to alleviate sky-high energy prices and the specter of shortages, and some already have accused oil drillers of gouging and profiteering.

US President Joe Biden last week pleaded with the industry to reinvest profits in new wells to help plug the supply gap from shunned Russian crude. At the same time, he warned of punishing financial penalties for companies slow-walking projects involving federally owned oil prospects.

Exxon said Monday that first-quarter results may have been as much as $2 billion higher than earnings during the final three months of 2021, when the company raked in $8.8 billion, according to a filing.

Surging oil prices were the main driver, with natural gas and fatter refining margins also contributing. International crude futures touched a 14-year high of almost $140 a barrel during the quarter.

Separately, Exxon formally approved the $10 billion Yellowtail development off the coast of Guyana after receiving government and regulatory approvals. The project is the fourth and largest in an area known as the Stabroek Block, and is expected to pump about 250,000 barrels a day starting in 2025.

Exxon also disclosed that exiting the Sakhalin-1 oil development in Russia’s Far East may trigger a writedown of as much as $4 billion. The company recently pledged to quit Russia due to international sanctions and what the company’s Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods described as the nation’s “needless destruction” in Ukraine.

Exxon shares fell 0.7% to at $82.55 11:23 a.m. in New York.

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