Chevron Profit Rises Amid Oil Downturn as Fuels Benefit

Chevron Corp.’s third-quarter net income rose for the first time in three years as refining oil into fuels buoyed returns amid the worst crude market of the decade.

Chevron more than tripled its profit from making gasoline, diesel, kerosene and other fuels by pushing more crude through its refineries as costs to acquire oil tumbled. In the U.S., the company’s plants processed enough crude during the quarter to fill 42 supertankers, helping make up for lower profit and production from its oil and natural gas wells.

Net income rose to $5.59 billion, or $2.95 a share, from $4.95 billion, or $2.57 a share, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said in a statement today. Excluding one-time gains and losses, the per-share result was 43 cents more than the $2.52 average of 20 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chevron’s refineries processed an average of 1.76 million barrels of crude during the July-to-September period, a 2.5 percent increase from a year earlier, according to the statement. In the U.S., so-called refinery throughput jumped by 11 percent.

Chevron rose 1.2 percent to $118.65 at 8:50 a.m. in New York. Before today, the shares had fallen 6.2 percent this year.

Brent crude futures that are a benchmark for more than half the world’s oil fell 5.6 percent during the quarter to an average of $103.46 a barrel. The domestic U.S. benchmark dropped 8.1 percent to $97.25.

Production Dilemma

Chevron warned investors in August that full-year output will be 1 percent to 2 percent below the company’s previous estimate. Chevron is counting on new gas-export and deep-water oil developments from Australia to Angola to revive production during the next two years, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Watson said in an interview last month.

Watson has so far shrugged off any long-term impact from the slump in world oil prices, which have fallen 25 percent from this year’s high in late June.

The company leading the Gorgon liquefied natural gas development in Australia -- the most-expensive of its kind ever -- only invests in projects that can turn a profit even during bear markets, Watson said during the interview.

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