Higher prices for petroleum products gave a nice boost to


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latest quarterly revenue, and the company offered fairly upbeat comments on its bid to acquire


( UCL) before a Chinese concern can do the same.

The San Ramon, Calif., oil major reported earnings of $3.7 billion, or $1.76 a share, for the second quarter, compared with $4.1 billion, or $1.94 a share, last year. Earnings in 2004 included a gain of 28 cents a share from asset sales and a benefit of 12 cents a share from a tax-law change for certain international operations.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting a profit of $1.69 in the second quarter. Revenue totaled $48.3 billion, up from $38.2 billion in the prior year.

Average U.S. prices for crude oil and natural gas liquids in the second quarter rose more than $11 to $44 a barrel. Internationally, prices were up nearly $13 a barrel to over $45. The average U.S. natural gas sales price increased 13% to about $6.30 per thousand cubic feet, while internationally the average natural gas price of about $3 per thousand cubic feet was 18% higher than a year earlier.

"Earnings were strong in the second quarter, despite some refinery downtime for maintenance and repairs," Chairman and CEO Dave O'Reilly said in a press release. "Strategically, we continued to advance our major initiatives in the period, including several projects aimed at commercializing our large international gas resource base."

Additionally, he was positive on Chevron's prospects for emerging victorious in its effort to buy Unocal, which has also been targeted for takeover by China's


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. "I also look forward with much anticipation to the merger with Unocal and being able to combine the strengths of these two fine companies," his statement said. "At this year's midpoint, the conditions overall are excellent for us to continue adding value for our stockholders."

O'Reilly also said as the second half of the year gets under way, he was "optimistic about our company's ability to improve upon its strong financial performance and to make additional progress on the major capital projects that are key to our future growth."

Chevron's worldwide oil-equivalent production, including volume produced from oil sands and production under an operating service agreement, dropped 6% from the 2004 second quarter, but rose slightly from the first quarter of this year. The majority of the decline from last year was a result of asset sales and cost-recovery provisions of production agreements.

Net oil-equivalent production fell around 15% to 740,000 barrels a day in the second quarter. The net liquids component of production was down 12% to 470,000 barrels a day. Net natural gas production averaged 1.6 billion cubic feet a day, 19% below last year. Production was lower partly because of property sales and curtailed production due to storms.