Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) saw its earnings fall 46 percent in the first quarter as a drastic drop in oil prices continued to eat into the energy sector’s profits. The Irving, Texas, company on Thursday reported quarterly profits of $4.9 billion, or $1.17 a share, compared with $9.1 billion, or $2.10, in the same period last year.
Revenues in the first quarter totaled $67.6 billion, a drop of about 36 percent from first-quarter revenues in 2014 ($106.3 billion).
Exxon Mobil continued to scale back capital and exploration expenditures as part of a multiyear plan to reduce raw material, service and construction costs. The world’s largest publicly traded oil company spent $7.7 billion in the first quarter, a 9 percent drop from a year earlier. Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s chairman and CEO, said in March that the company would cut its capital budget every year through 2017, with spending for 2015 reduced to $34 billion, or 12 percent less than 2014 spending.
Global oil prices have plunged by about half since last summer, when Brent crude, an international benchmark, fell from $115 a barrel in June 2014 to below $45 a barrel in January. On Thursday, Brent crude was trading at $65.84 a barrel, while U.S. crude oil hit a five-month high of $59.40 a barrel, Reuters reported.
“Regardless of current market conditions, we remain focused on business fundamentals and competitive advantages that create long-term shareholder value,” Tillerson told investors Thursday.
Exxon Mobil’s oil and natural gas output rose in the first quarter by 97,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day, to 4.2 million barrels. Quarterly volumes were up 2.3 percent thanks largely to new developments in Papua New Guinea, Canada, Angola and Indonesia, as well as in Alaska’s North Slope.
The higher volumes increased Exxon Mobil’s earnings by $340 million, and favorable tax effects added another $250 million. But the gains weren’t enough to offset the $5.5 billion drop in decreased earnings from lower gas and liquids prices. Overall, upstream earnings fell 41 percent in the first quarter, to $2.9 billion.