ExxonMobil reports record near-$20bn profit, almost matching

Oil company ExxonMobil has reported a quarterly profit of nearly $20bn (£17.3bn), $4bn more than analysts had forecast, almost matching the earnings of tech giant Apple.

The US oil giant’s $19.7bn profit for the third quarter smashed expectations, and even outstripped the record $17.9bn it reported for the previous quarter, as it became the latest fossil fuel producer to enjoy soaring earnings, a day after Shell announced global profits of $9.5bn between July and September.

Consumers and businesses have faced soaring energy bills since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, at the same time as oil companies have raked in record profits thanks to high oil and natural gas prices.

Western sanctions on Russia have pushed the world’s largest economies to look elsewhere for their energy, and US exports of gas and oil to Europe have jumped, setting oil companies on the path to record high earnings.

ExxonMobil’s profit between July and September brought it within touching distance of the $20.7 earned by Apple over the same period.

The company said its profits – double those made by Shell during the same period – were the result of “strong volume performance, including record refining volumes, rigorous cost control and higher natural gas realisations”. It said this more than offset lower crude oil prices and weaker industry refining margins.

Oil prices have fallen from their highs of $120 a barrel of Brent crude in June to about $96, while natural gas prices have also dropped to about 70% lower than their peak in late August.

High energy prices have caused concern among consumers and have also attracted political attention. US president Joe Biden said in June: “We’re going to make sure everybody knows Exxon’s profits.”

He added: “Exxon made more money than God this year.”

More details to follow soon …