Business & Economy

Occidental Petroleum 1Q profit nearly triples

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Thursday that profits nearly tripled in the first quarter as oil prices soared.

The Los Angeles oil company reported that it made $1.06 billion, or 1.31 per share, in the first three months of the year. That compares with $368 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Revenue increased 55 percent to $4.77 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.36 per share on revenue of $4.8 billion.

The surge in company profits followed the price of oil, which jumped on the New York Mercantile Exchange from below $33 a barrel in the first quarter of last year to more than $80 a barrel in the first quarter of 2010.

During the quarter, Occidental said it sold crude for an average of $71.88 a barrel, up from $39.29 per barrel a year earlier.

As prices rose, Occidental pumped more crude. The company said it produced nearly 5 percent more oil and gas in the first three months of the year at 743,000 barrels per day.

Production increased in the company's Middle East and North Africa operations, which included a new field in Bahrain and rising volumes from the Mukhaizna field in Oman. Production in Argentina fell due to a labor strike, the company said.

Income from Occidental's chemicals business dropped 82 percent to $30 million, compared with $169 million in the first quarter of 2009. Its trading and marketing operation saw profits jump more than five fold to $94 million from $14 million.

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