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Chevron earnings fall 27 per cent on lower oil production, lower oil prices

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Chevron Corp. reported a steep decline in first quarter profit because of lower global oil prices and bad weather that slowed oil production.

Chevron said Friday that it earned $4.52 billion in the first three months of the year on revenue of $50.98 billion. Last year during the same period, Chevron earned $6.18 billion on revenue of $54.3 billion.

On a per share basis, Chevron earned $2.36, down from $3.18 last year. Analysts had expected Chevron to earn $2.54, on average, according to FactSet.

Chevron shares fell 2 cents to $124.92 in morning trading.

Chevron and other major oil companies are struggling to maintain production as they drain oil and gas from their fields around the world. At the same time, the cost of exploring new fields is rising as they have to venture into more extreme and remote conditions to access hydrocarbons.

Profits are getting squeezed as these costs rise, because average oil prices have been roughly flat for about three years.

Chevron is developing several enormous projects in Australia and the Gulf of Mexico that are expected to help the company grow production in the coming years. But they aren't producing anything yet, and analysts worry about the company's ability to get the projects up and running on time and on budget.

In the first quarter of this year, Chevron's oil and gas production fell 2 per cent worldwide. In the U.S., production fell 4 per cent as higher production of oil and gas in New Mexico and western Pennsylvania were more than offset by normal field declines elsewhere.

Overseas, where Chevron produces the vast majority of its oil and gas, production fell 2 per cent. Increased production from projects on Nigeria and Angola was offset by field declines and weather-related shut-downs in Kazakhstan.

The average price Chevron fetched for its crude oil fell 3 per cent both in the U.S. and abroad as oil prices around the world slipped slightly.

Results at Chevron's refining operations rose slightly, thanks to improved performance in the U.S.

Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .

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