Oil majors profit as Covid recovery sees crude prices climb

Refining losses more than offset by demand for chemicals and rallying prices

Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron generated the most free cash flow in more than a year as economies around the world claw their way out of lockdowns, boosting energy demand.

Rallying crude prices and demand for chemicals used in plastics more than offset losses from refining oil as the largest North American explorers disclosed first-quarter results on Friday.

Despite living up to Wall Street’s profit expectations, Chevron shares dropped 2.4 per cent after disappointing investors who were anticipating a revival of share buybacks. Although Exxon’s deep refining losses were blunted by chemical profits, the stock declined by 1.7 per cent.

All the supermajors are making money again after crude's 30 per cent year-to-date rally to more than $65 (€54) a barrel, buoyed by rising energy demand as economies emerge from the pandemic and Opec holds the line on big supply increases. BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total all preceded their US peers with bigger-than-expected profits. – Bloomberg