Chevron Corp (CVX.N), the second-largest U.S. oil company, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit would be "notably higher" than the previous quarter as oil and gas output bounced back and it booked a $1.4 billion gain on an asset transaction.
Chevron is also preparing to bring its refinery in Richmond, California, back to full production this quarter, after the crude unit of the 245,000-barrels-per-day plant was badly damaged in an August fire.
The impact was clear as Chevron's average U.S. refining input of 702,000 bpd in October and November was down 226,000 bpd from the second quarter - the last period when Richmond was fully running throughout. The San Francisco Chronicle said this week that Chevron aims to restart the crude unit in February.
On the upstream side, Chevron's average U.S. production of oil and gas from wells rose to 676,000 bpd in October and November, compared with a hurricane-depressed average of 637,000 bpd for the third quarter.
Worldwide, Chevron's output reached its highest since mid-2011. The company produced the oil equivalent of 2.66 million bpd in the first two months of the quarter, up from an average 2.52 million in the third quarter - when it was curbed by maintenance in the UK and Kazakhstan.
Shares of Chevron rose 0.8 percent to $111.33 in after-hours trading, when the company's quarterly interim update was released, after closing up 0.8 percent in the regular session.
Before the update, analysts had expected a net profit of $3.00 per share for the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, up from $2.57 in the third quarter and $2.58 in the fourth quarter a year before.
Chevron got no help from oil prices in the quarter, with an average Brent oil price of $110 per barrel that was basically the same as the previous quarter and up just $1 per barrel from a year before.
The $1.4 billion gain stemmed from a deal with Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), announced in August, in which Shell swapped interests in two fields off Australia for Chevron's holdings in the Browse liquefied natural gas project.
(Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Gary Hill, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)