Big Oil, big quarter, no surprise

Oil giants Chevron Corp. and Total SA wrapped up a string of gargantuan, record-breaking earnings reports Friday, a stretch in which six of the major international oil companies topped $50 billion in combined profit for the first time.

While the profits of unparalleled size have brought withering criticism from Washington and disgust from U.S. consumers, very few were surprised. Crude prices during the second quarter were nearly double what they were a year ago.

Chevron said Friday its second-quarter profit rose 11 percent to a record $5.98 billion, despite losing money on the refining side of the business.

The San Ramon, Calif.-based company said net income for the three months ended June 30 amounted to $2.90 per share, versus income of $5.38 billion, or $2.52 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose significantly to $82.9 billion from $56.1 billion a year ago.

But results for the second-largest U.S. oil company missed Wall Street forecasts and shares fell. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected a profit of $3.03 per share on revenue of $92.41 billion.

Like its competitors, Chevron made the bulk of its money at its exploration and production arm, also known as the upstream, where income nearly doubled from a year ago to $7.25 billion.

Chevron said the average sales price for crude and natural gas liquids was $109 a barrel in the quarter, up from $57 a barrel a year earlier.

In addition to Chevron, soaring commodity prices led to record quarters for Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Exxon Mobil stood apart even from this crowd, logging the largest ever quarterly operating profit for a U.S. company. Barring companies that made huge profits on one-time gains like bankruptcy settlements and spin-offs, Exxon Mobil holds the top 10 records for biggest U.S. quarterly earnings.

French energy company Total SA said Friday its profit climbed 38.7 percent in the second quarter to $7.38 billion. Quarterly sales rose 23 percent to $75.25 billion.

Altogether, the profits of the six companies jumped more than 40 percent in the second quarter to $51.5 billion, the first time big Western oil companies have reached that level.

Total's earnings were at the top end of analysts' expectations.

Unlike some other oil majors, Total reported production growth of 1.3 percent in the second quarter.

Also Friday, Norway's state-controlled StatoilHydro ASA reported a 37 percent rise in second-quarter net profits to $3.7 billion.