Exxon could swing into profit this quarter after five consecutive quarters in the red thanks to higher oil and gas prices and recovering demand, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing also suggested that Exxon did not expect too great an impact on its first-quarter performance from the Texas Freeze in February, which led to oilfield shutdowns. According to the company, the Freeze could lead to losses of less than a billion dollars across upstream, downstream, and chemicals, while the increase in oil prices alone would have a positive impact of between $1.6 billion and $2 billion. The increase in natural gas prices would add another $300-700 million to this positive impact.
Reuters quoted Raymond James & Associates as saying that thanks to the price improvement in Exxon’s two core products, the company could outperform Wall Street forecasts for its first-quarter results.
Like its peers, Exxon suffered massive losses triggered by the pandemic and the resulting demand destruction. Earlier this year, the company even did something that it was holding off on doing long after all the rest of the Big Oil club did it: it revised down its oil reserves.
The move shocked markets as Exxon slashed reserves down by almost a third in the most radical revision in its modern history. The supermajor reported reserves totaling 15.3 billion barrels as of the end of 2020 in a regulatory filing. This compared with 22.44 billion barrels a year earlier.
The biggest chunk of “deleted” assets came from Canadian oil sands: Exxon removed almost all of its oil sands holdings from its books as of the end of last year. This, however, does not mean they are gone forever.
“Among the factors that could result in portions of these amounts being recognized again as proved reserves at some point in the future are a recovery in the SEC price basis, cost reductions, operating efficiencies, and increases in planned capital spending,” Exxon said in its filing.