Chevron Corp , the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported on Friday a sharp rise in quarterly profit, as oil prices bounced back strongly in the past year, offsetting lower earnings from its refineries.

First-quarter net profit rose to $4.55 billion, or $2.27 per share, from $1.84 billion, or 92 cents per share, a year before. Sales rose 34 percent to $46.7 billion.

It was Chevron's first set of results under Chief Executive John Watson, who has set out plans to turn around the refining business while executing on its line-up of oil and gas production projects.

Most of the world's leading private-sector oil companies reported stronger-than-expected profits this week, while sector leader Exxon Mobil Corp was hit by the impact of U.S. health reform and a weak refining performance.

(Reporting by Matt Daily, with additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)