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ExxonMobil sees sharp drop in international profits for refining, chemicals

01.30.2014  | 

Exxon said sluggish economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions limited refining business, while Asia's chemical sector was hurt by a spate of new capacity added in recent years.


ExxonMobil saw its 2013 fourth-quarter refining and marketing profit fall 48% from the year earlier, according to the company's earnings release on Thursday.

"Weaker margins, mainly in refining, decreased earnings by $680 million," the company said. "Volume and mix effects increased earnings by $110 million."

All other items, including higher operating expenses and unfavorable foreign exchange impacts, decreased earnings by $280 million. Petroleum product sales of nearly 6 million bpd were 114,000 bpd lower than last year's fourth quarter.

Earnings from the US refining and marketing segment were $597 million, only a 14% decline from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, profits from the international refining and marketing segment were $319 million, down more than 70% from over $1 billion in the 2012 fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, fourth-quarter earnings in ExxonMobil's chemicals business fell 5% year on year to $910 million.

Although volume and mix effects increased earnings by $50 million, weaker margins, mainly in specialties, decreased them by $70 million. All other items decreased earnings by $30 million.

As with the refining segment, a weak international market was largely to blame for ExxonMobil's flagging chemical results. Profits in the company's international chemicals business fell 56% to $102 million.

David Rosenthal, vice president of ExxonMobil, said sluggish economic growth in the Asia-Pacific and Europe regions limited the refining business, while Asia's chemicals industry was hurt due to a spate of new chemicals capacity added in recent years.

"Those are weak markets compared to the US and Canada without question," Rosenthal said.

Earnings for the US chemicals segment, which Rosenthal says is experiencing "top-of-the-cycle business conditions", rose 11% to $108 million.

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