Imperial Oil posts profit in third quarter as fuel demand begins to recover

(Reuters) - Canada's Imperial Oil Ltd IMO.TO eked out a third-quarter profit on Friday, after two straight quarters of losses, as demand started to recover after collapsing earlier in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company, which is majority owned by Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N, said its refinery throughput averaged 341,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down 6% year over year, but 22.7% higher sequentially, with overall utilization at 81% for the quarter.

The coronavirus outbreak led to the grounding of flights and brought economies to a standstill, hurting demand for fuel but with the easing of the pandemic-induced curbs, demand has begun to pick up and crude prices have rebounded from their historic lows.

However, the nascent recovery has since been threatened by new cases and fresh lockdowns.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company posted a net income of C$3 million ($2.28 million) for the quarter, compared with a profit of C$424 million a year earlier.

Capital expenditures for 2020 are now expected to be about C$900 million, Imperial said, below its previous guidance of C$1.1 billion to C$1.2 billion.

Production averaged 365,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in the quarter, down 10% from a year ago, but up 5% sequentially.

($1 = 1.3186 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Shradha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich