Chevron first-quarter profit beats expectations on rising crude prices

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. oil producer Chevron Corp CVX.N posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit on Friday thanks to rising crude prices CLc1LCoc1 and production.

The logo of Chevron Corp is seen in its booth at Gastech, the world's biggest expo for the gas industry, in Chiba, Japan April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The results are largely the fruits of Chevron’s years-long push to bolster oil and gas production operations, especially in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and U.S. shale.

Shares of the San Ramon, California-based company rose 1.8 percent to $126.50 in premarket trading.

Net income jumped to $3.64 billion, or $1.90 per share, from $2.68 billion, or $1.41 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

By that measure, analysts expected earnings of $1.48 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“Our cash flow continues to increase with the powerful combination of expanding upstream margins and volumes,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth said in a statement.

Profit more than doubled in the division that pumps oil and natural gas to $3.35 billion.

Like rival Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N, profit in Chevron's refining and chemical operations dropped in the quarter due to weak margins. It was the second consecutive quarter of weakness in units that make gasoline and related products, with downstream profit falling 21 percent to $728 million.

For its downstream division, Chevron has asked U.S. regulators for exemptions to U.S. biofuels rules that are typically only given to small companies in financial distress, Reuters reported earlier this month.

Production rose 7 percent to 2.9 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. The biggest jump was in its U.S. operations, as international production dipped slightly.

Chevron executives plan to discuss the quarterly results on a conference call with investors on Friday.

Two senior Chevron executives in Venezuela were arrested earlier this month on allegations of corruption. Chevron has been pulling staff from the OPEC-member nation.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe