Unocal

(UCL)

said second-quarter earnings nearly doubled from a year ago, backed by high energy prices and cost-cutting efforts.

For the second quarter ended June 30, the El Segundo, Calif., oil giant posted a continuing operations profit of $282 million, or $1.04 a share. That's up from the year-ago $165 million, or 64 cents a share. Revenue rose to $1.98 billion from $1.63 billion a year earlier.

On a bottom-line basis, latest-quarter earnings surged to $341 million from $177 million a year ago.

"We had an outstanding second quarter, recording the highest quarterly profit in the company's history," said CEO Charles Williamson. "In the second quarter, we benefited from higher commodity prices and lower exploration expense."

The company said the latest-quarter gains were driven by higher worldwide crude oil and natural gas prices and lower exploration expense. Those factors were partially offset by lower worldwide natural gas and liquids production and higher dry hole costs.

"We continued to execute on our major development programs in the Caspian Sea, Thailand, Bangladesh and deepwater Gulf of Mexico -- programs that we believe will contribute to production growth in 2005 and 2006," the CEO said.

On Monday, shares of Unocal were at $38.76.