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Lower production, weaker chemicals and refining lower Exxon Mobil 1Q profit

FILE - This Oct. 26, 2006, file photo shows an Exxon logo at a gas station in Dallas. Exxon Mobil said Thursday, April 26, 2012, that it earned $9.45 billion, or $2 per share, in the first quarter, down from $10.7 billion, or $2.14, a year earlier. Revenue rose 8.8 percent to $124.1 billion. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Exxon Mobil struggled just about everywhere in the first quarter.

It produced less oil and natural gas. Profits dropped at its chemical plants and U.S. refineries. And its overall net income fell 11 per cent, the first decline in quarterly earnings since late 2009.

America's largest energy company earned US$9.45 billion, or $2 per share short of Wall Street expectations and below the $10.7 billion, or $2.14 a share, it earned a year earlier. Revenue rose 8.8 per cent to $124.1 billion, but that also fell short of analysts' forecasts.

Other energy companies face similar production problems. Output was nearly unchanged at Royal Dutch Shell and it dropped at ConocoPhillips. Each struggled to generate revenue from U.S. natural gas fields as prices for the fuel plunged.

ConocoPhillips's first-quarter profit declined 3 per cent while Occidental Petroleum Corp.'s quarterly earnings rose slightly. Chevron Corp. will report results on Friday, and analysts expect earnings of $3.27 a share.

Exxon Mobil's oil production slipped by 7.7 per cent and natural gas production fell by 3.4 per cent. The declines resulted from aging fields and contracts with foreign governments that limited the amount of oil and gas the company could sell.

Analysts are concerned about what Exxon will do with its natural gas fields in the U.S., where prices have dropped to 10-year lows. The company has kept its natural gas rigs pumping while other big producers like Chesapeake Energy Corp. and ConocoPhillips have shut down many of theirs.

Exxon sold natural gas for $2.74 per 1,000 cubic feet in the U.S., down 31 per cent from a year earlier.

Elsewhere, Exxon said profits fell for its chemicals and U.S. refinery operations.

Shares fell $1.43, or 1.7 per cent, to $85.42 in midday trading.

There was some positive news for investors. The company sold oil for higher prices around the world, and international natural gas prices rose by 16 per cent. Profit rose for its international refining operations. Exxon also plans to boost its quarterly dividend by 21 per cent, the largest increase since it 1975, making it the biggest corporate dividend payer.


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