Chevron's profits fall 37%, posts $3.1B for fourth quarter

Chevron Corporation (CVX) today reported earnings of $3.07 billion ($1.53 per share - diluted) for the fourth quarter 2009, compared with $4.90 billion ($2.44 per share - diluted) in the fourth quarter 2008. Earnings in the 2008 quarter included a gain of approximately $600 million on an upstream asset-exchange transaction. Foreign-currency effects reduced earnings in the 2009 quarter by $67 million, compared with a benefit to income of $478 million a year earlier.
 
Full-year 2009 earnings were $10.48 billion ($5.24 per share - diluted), down 56 percent from $23.93 billion ($11.67 per share - diluted) in 2008. 

Sales and other operating revenues in the fourth quarter 2009 were $48 billion, compared with $43 billion in the year-ago quarter. For the full-year 2009, sales and other operating revenues were $167 billion, versus $265 billion in 2008. The decrease in the twelve-month period was primarily due to lower prices for crude oil, natural gas and refined products. 

"Earnings decreased in 2009 as a result of lower crude oil and natural gas prices and a decline in refined product sales margins, driven by a weak global economy," said Chevron's Chairman and CEO, John Watson. "In this challenging environment, Chevron's successes in operational reliability and cost management made valuable contributions to our bottom line. Our financial strength enabled continued investment in our excellent portfolio of capital and exploratory projects and an increase in the annual dividend on our common shares for the 22nd consecutive year. 

"In fourth quarter 2009, earnings in our upstream business benefited from higher crude oil prices than in the same quarter in 2008. Net oil-equivalent production for the quarter was over 9 percent higher than in the 2008 quarter, driven by new production from several of our major capital projects. 

"In our downstream business, our operated refineries continued to run reliably during the fourth quarter. However, this operational success did not offset the effects of low margins on the sale of gasoline and other refined products due to weak demand and excess supply worldwide," continued Watson. 

Watson said on-going, aggressive cost-management efforts companywide resulted in about a 15 percent decrease in operating, selling, general and administrative expenses in 2009 compared with the previous year.
Watson also said that recent developments related to the company's projects in Australia have demonstrated continued progress in building a high-impact natural-gas business. Developments related to Australia projects in recent months include: 

Gorgon - Agreements were signed for delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Gorgon Project. These include long-term, binding agreements for the delivery of about 4.4 million metric tons per year and non-binding Heads of Agreement (HOAs) for delivery of an additional 2.1 million metric tons per year of LNG from Gorgon. Together, these agreements underpin the final investment decision on the 47.3 percent-owned and operated project and represent about 90 percent of Chevron's share in the 15 million metric-tons-per-year capacity of the LNG facilities. 

Wheatstone - Non-binding HOAs were signed with two buyers to take delivery of 4.9 million metric tons per year of LNG from the Wheatstone Project and acquire an equity share in the field licenses and LNG facilities. An agreement was also signed to bring in two other equity partners to the Wheatstone LNG facilities. The project, currently undergoing front-end engineering and design, has a planned capacity of 8.6 million metric tons per year. 

Exploration - Additional discoveries of natural gas were made in the Carnarvon Basin off the northwest coast in the Chevron-operated and 50 percent-owned Blocks WA-374-P and WA-268-P. 

Another recently-announced achievement was the final investment decision to develop the 37.5 percent-owned, partner-operated Papa-Terra Field offshore Brazil. First production is expected in 2013. Project facilities are designed with a capacity to handle up to 140,000 barrels of crude oil per day. 

Watson commented that the company added approximately 1.10 billion barrels of net oil-equivalent proved reserves in 2009. These additions, which are subject to final reviews, equate to 112 percent of net oil-equivalent production for the year. Included in the additions were proved reserves related to the Gorgon Project in Australia. Also included were additions for the Athabasca Oil Sands Project in Canada as a result of a change in financial reporting rules. The increase in proved reserves was partially offset by the unfavorable effect of higher crude oil prices on certain production-sharing and variable-royalty contracts. The company will provide additional details relating to 2009 reserve activity in its Annual Report on Form 10-K scheduled for filing with the SEC on February 25. 

UPSTREAM - EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION 

Worldwide net oil-equivalent production was 2.78 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter 2009, up 238,000 from 2.54 million barrels per day in the 2008 fourth quarter. Production for the full year 2009 averaged 2.70 million barrels per day, an increase of 7 percent compared with 2.53 million barrels per day in 2008. The increases for both periods were primarily driven by new projects in the United States and Nigeria, and expansion of capacity at Tengiz in Kazakhstan. 

U.S. upstream earnings of $1.04 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009 were down $105 million from a year earlier. Higher crude-oil production and realizations in the fourth quarter of 2009 were more than offset by the absence of a $600 million gain on an asset-exchange transaction in the corresponding 2008 period. Operating expenses were lower between periods, while depreciation expense was higher. 

The company's average sales price per barrel of crude oil and natural gas liquids was approximately $67 in the 2009 quarter, compared with $49 a year ago. The average sales price of natural gas was $4.23 per thousand cubic feet, down from $5.23 in the 2008 fourth quarter. 

Net oil-equivalent production of 751,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter 2009 was up 132,000 barrels per day, or about 21 percent, from a year earlier. The increase in production was primarily associated with ramp-ups of the Blind Faith and Tahiti fields (which started producing in late 2008 and second quarter 2009, respectively), along with the restoration of volumes that were offline in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The net liquids component of production was up 30 percent to 518,000 barrels per day in the 2009 fourth quarter and net natural-gas production of 1.40 billion cubic feet per day increased 6 percent between periods. 

International upstream earnings of $2.96 billion increased $956 million from the fourth quarter 2008 due mainly to the impact of higher prices and sales volumes for crude oil. Foreign-currency effects reduced earnings by $47 million in the 2009 quarter, compared with an increase of $644 million a year earlier. Gains from asset sales and lower exploration expense also benefited earnings in the fourth quarter of 2009.
The average sales price for crude oil and natural gas liquids in the 2009 quarter was $68 per barrel, compared with $47 a year earlier. The average price of natural gas was $4.15 per thousand cubic feet, down from $5.10 in last year's fourth quarter. 

Net oil-equivalent production of 2.03 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter 2009 was up 6 percent, or 106,000 barrels per day, from a year ago. The increase included approximately 135,000 barrels per day associated with the ramp-up of two projects - Agbami in Nigeria, which commenced operations in the third quarter of 2008, and expansion at Tengiz in Kazakhstan. The impact of higher prices on cost-recovery volumes and other contractual provisions decreased net production from fourth quarter 2008. The net liquids component of production increased about 6 percent from a year ago to 1.42 million barrels per day and net natural-gas production was up about 5 percent to 3.65 billion cubic feet per day. 

DOWNSTREAM - REFINING, MARKETING AND TRANSPORTATION 

U.S. downstream operations lost $345 million in the fourth quarter 2009, compared with earnings of $1.03 billion a year earlier. The decline was mainly the result of weaker margins on the sale of gasoline and other refined products. 

Refinery crude-input of 856,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter 2009 decreased 74,000 barrels per day from the year-ago period, primarily due to the effects of a planned shutdown in this year's fourth quarter at the refinery in El Segundo, California. 

Refined-product sales of 1.35 million barrels per day were down 60,000 barrels per day from the fourth quarter of 2008, mainly due to weaker demand for jet fuel and gas oils. Branded gasoline sales decreased 2 percent to 595,000 barrels per day, also due to weaker demand. 

International downstream operations incurred losses of $268 million in the fourth quarter 2009, compared with earnings of $1.05 billion a year earlier. The decline was associated mainly with narrower margins on the sale of gasoline and refined products and the absence of gains from commodity derivative instruments in the fourth quarter of 2008. Partially offsetting were the benefits of lower operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Refinery crude-input of 975,000 barrels per day was essentially unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2008. Total refined-product sales of 1.8 million barrels per day in the 2009 fourth quarter were 7 percent lower than a year earlier, due mainly to asset sales since the fourth quarter of last year. Excluding the impact of 2009 asset sales, sales volumes were up 1 percent between periods. 

CHEMICALS 

Chemical operations earned $98 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with $28 million in the year-ago period. Earnings of the 50 percent-owned Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC (CPChem) and Chevron's Oronite subsidiary were both higher between periods. For CPChem, the benefits from lower utility and manufacturing costs, as well as the absence of an impairment in last year's fourth quarter, were partially offset by lower margins on the sale of commodity chemicals. For Oronite, margins on the sales of lubricant and fuel additives were higher between periods. 

ALL OTHER 

All Other consists of mining operations, power generation businesses, worldwide cash management and debt financing activities, corporate administrative functions, insurance operations, real estate activities, alternative fuels and technology companies. 

Net charges in the fourth quarter 2009 were $418 million, compared with $365 million in the year-ago period. Foreign-currency effects reduced net charges by $5 million in the 2009 quarter, compared with a $126 million increase in net charges last year. Other net charges were higher between periods primarily due to an unfavorable change in corporate tax items. 

CAPITAL AND EXPLORATORY EXPENDITURES 

Capital and exploratory expenditures in 2009 were $22.2 billion, compared with $22.8 billion in 2008. The amounts included approximately $1.6 billion in 2009 and $2.3 billion in 2008 for the company's share of expenditures by affiliates, which did not require cash outlays by the company. Expenditures for upstream projects represented 77 percent of the companywide total in 2009.



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