Chevron just posted its first quarterly loss since 2002 thanks to low oil prices

Emma Haslett
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Chevron Reports Quarterly Earnings
The company sold off $6bn of assets in 2015 (Source: Getty)

Is this the surest sign yet the fall in oil prices is more than just a blip? US oil goliath Chevron has posted its first quarterly loss since 2002, saying the nearly 50 per cent drop in oil prices had hit it hard.

The company posted a loss of $588m (£412m) in its fourth quarter, down from a $3.5bn profit in the same period last year. Earnings were dragged down by a $1.4bn loss in its upstream business, down from a $2.7bn profit this time last year.

Full-year earnings also plummeted, to $4.6bn, from $19.2bn in 2014.

Chief executive John Watson outlined "significant action" the company is taking to combat a nearly 50 per cent decline in crude oil prices, including slashing Operating expenses and capital spending by $9bn in 2015 from 2014, as well as asset sales of $6bn.

"I expect similarly large reductions again in 2016," he said.

“We advanced our upstream major capital projects. We had first production from two deepwater projects in Africa, and ramped up production from Jack/St. Malo in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and our shale and tight resources in the Permian Basin. We made significant progress on our LNG projects in Australia, in particular the Gorgon Project where we expect to be producing LNG within the next few weeks.

"Successful completion and start-up of these and other major capital projects will translate into significantly lower capital spending, higher production and growing cash generation in the months ahead.”

In October the company warned it could cut between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs as it cuts its capital budget by 25 per cent.

Although oil prices have crept up in recent days - today Brent crude was hovering around $35 per barrel as rumours Russia may be prepared to cut production shored up prices - they are still too low for many producers to break even.

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