ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) reported a 5% decline in earnings for the fourth quarter of 2019 due to weakness in crude oil demand as well as short-term supply length in the downstream and chemical businesses. However, the results exceeded analysts’ expectations.
Net income plunged by 5% to $5.69 billion or $1.33 per share. Revenue dropped by 7% to $67.17 billion. Analysts had expected EPS of $0.43 on revenue of $64.17 billion for the fourth quarter.
Oil-equivalent production was in line with last year at 4 million barrels per day with a 4% increase in liquids offset by a 5% decrease in gas. Excluding entitlement effects and divestments, liquids production increased 2% driven by Permian Basin growth, while natural gas volumes decreased 4%.
In upstream, average crude and natural gas realizations were essentially in line with last quarter. Liquid volumes rose 2% on growth and lower scheduled maintenance. Natural gas volumes increased 5% driven by seasonal demand. Permian unconventional development continued with production up 54% from last year.
In downstream, industry fuel margins were significantly lower than third-quarter, reflecting seasonally lower demand and increased supply from reduced industry maintenance. In chemical, margins weakened further from already depressed levels with supply length from recent industry capacity additions and higher feed costs.
ExxonMobil said that oil production started from the Liza field offshore Guyana, less than five years after the first discovery of hydrocarbons, well ahead of the industry average. Gross production from the Liza phase 1 development, located in the Stabroek block, is expected to reach a capacity of 120,000 gross barrels of oil per day in the coming months.
The company closed the previously announced sale of its non-operated upstream assets in Norway to Var Energi AS for $4.5 billion as part of its plans to divest about $15 billion in non-strategic assets by 2021. The corporation’s fourth-quarter earnings include a $3.7 billion gain on the sale.