Higher prices boost Chevron

SAN FRANCISCO — Chevron Corp. on Friday joined the parade of oil giants posting big second-quarter profits, as rising petroleum prices lifted its net income to $5.41 billion, or $2.70 per share.

That more than triples the $1.75 billion profit Chevron, based in San Ramon, Calif., earned in the second quarter of 2009, beating analysts’ expectations.

With the exception of BP, all of the big international oil companies are seeing their fortunes surge.

Oil prices have spent the first half of 2010 at levels that would have seemed stunning just a few years ago, only falling below $70 per barrel for a handful of days in May. Crude oil sold on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed Friday at $78.95.

As a result, Chevron made more money in the first six months of 2010 – $9.96 billion – than it did in all of 2003, when the company’s annual profit hit $7.2 billion.

Chevron even saw a big jump in profits from its refining and marketing operations, which had been faring so badly that the company cut 2,000 jobs from that division this year. The company’s downstream operations in the United States made a $433 million profit in the second quarter, compared to a $51 million loss during the same three months of 2009.

The massive BP oil spill did not shut down any of Chevron’s oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.

But George Kirkland, the company’s executive vice president in charge of exploration and drilling, said the federal drilling moratorium triggered by the spill had suspended drilling at two of Chevron’s offshore oil fields and will delay exploratory drilling at two other sites.

He called for lifting the moratorium and said that Chevron supports tightening standards for how offshore wells are drilled.