Picture: REUTERS/JESSICA RINALDI
Picture: REUTERS/JESSICA RINALDI

Houston/Bengaluru — Top US oil producer ExxonMobil has posted its first annual loss as a public company as the Covid-19 pandemic hammered energy prices and Exxon reduced the value of its shale gas properties by more than $20bn in the fourth quarter.

Exxon cut up to 15% of its workforce and delayed oil and gas projects after accepting oil prices could remain below $60 a barrel for years. It added $22bn to its debt in 2020 to cover its dividend and project spending.

The company reported a net annual loss of $22.44bn for 2020, compared with a full-year profit of $14.34bn in 2019.

Exxon posted four straight quarters of losses in 2020 and is under fire from activist investors pushing for board changes and a better strategy for a global transition to cleaner fuels.

On Tuesday, it named former Petronas president Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee bin Wan Ariffin to its board of directors, and said it is in discussions with other candidates.

Exxon shares rose 2.3% to about $46 in pre-market trading.

Other oil majors are also under pressure as pandemic-related travel restrictions cloud fuel demand and spur cost-cutting at energy firms.

Rival BP plunged to its first annual loss in a decade on Tuesday,  while Chevron, on Friday, fell to the first annual loss since 2016. Royal Dutch Shell reports its financial results on Thursday and Total reports next week.

Exxon posted a net loss of $20.2bn, or $4.70 a share in the fourth-quarter ended December 31 2020, compared with a profit of $5.69bn, or $1.33 per share, a year ago.

Excluding the impairment and other charges, the company earned 3c a share, beating analysts’ average expectation of a 1c gain, Refinitiv IBES data found.

Exxon’s oil and gas output was flat at 3.7-million barrels of oil and gas per day in the quarter, as oil cartel Opec curtailed output. 

Reuters

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