Chevron sees profit up in first quarter


SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chevron Corp <CVX.N>, the second-largest U.S. oil company, expects better earnings in the first quarter than in the previous quarter, helped by higher oil prices and stronger refining margins.

Even while there was an increase in the cost of refineries' main input, crude oil, Chevron said on Monday that refining margins had improved on the previous quarter worldwide, with the exception of northwest Europe.

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In the first official view of last quarter from a leading oil company, Chevron also said first-quarter exploration and production earnings would be higher than in the previous quarter, despite a decline in production.

Chevron said in its interim trading update that average U.S. oil-equivalent output in January and February was 686,000 barrels per day (bpd) compared with 698,000 in the fourth quarter and down from 734,000 bpd a year earlier. The company said this reflected small declines across multiple assets.

Including international output, which was 2.062 million bpd, Chevron reported about 2.75 million bpd of oil-equivalent production for the first two months of the quarter, down from nearly 2.79 million in the fourth quarter.

Benchmark U.S. oil prices averaged $95 per barrel in the first quarter, up from $79 in the same quarter last year and $10 higher than the previous quarter.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall)

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