ConocoPhillips ( COP) announced Wednesday that its net income rose 38% in the fourth quarter of 2007, partly thanks to higher commodity prices and refinery utilization rates.

Conoco reported net income of $4.4 billion, or $2.71 a share, for the quarter, up from $3.2 billion, or $1.91 a share, for the same quarter in 2006. Analysts were expecting $2.38 a share, according to an analyst poll conducted by Thomson Financial.

The company generated $52.7 billion in revenues, compared with $41.5 billion for the same period in 2006.

"We had another solid quarter, which contributed to a strong year in terms of operating performance and market conditions, enabling us to achieve positive financial results," CEO Jim Mulva said in a prepared statement.

Income from upstream operations was $2.6 billion, a 24% increase over the fourth quarter in 2006, primarily due to higher crude oil and natural gas prices.

Daily production, including Canadian syncrude but excluding production from Conoco's Lukoil investment, averaged 1.84 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. This was a decrease from the 2.05 million BOE per day reported in the fourth quarter of 2006, but was 76 million barrels more than in the third quarter of 2007.

The company's profits from E&P operations were offset by new taxes applied retroactively to Alaskan production that cost the company $234 million.

Conoco's midstream operations earned $162 million in the fourth quarter, up from $89 million a year earlier.

Income from its refining and marketing segment was $1.1 billion, vs. $919 million the previous year. "The increase from the fourth quarter of 2006 was primarily due to higher realized worldwide refining margins and net benefits from the company's asset rationalization efforts," according to a press release.

Conoco's global refinery utilization rate was 95%, up one percentage point from the same period a year ago.

During the fourth quarter ConocoPhillips purchased a 50% stake in the Keystone crude oil pipeline, which delivers North American crude to refineries in the mid-continent region. The company also entered into a partnership with Qatar Petroleum International to pursue energy projects outside of Qatar.

On a conference call, Mulva said he hopes that Conoco's partnership with Qatar Petroleum will ultimately lead to more projects within Qatar and elsewhere in the Middle East, such as in Kuwait and Iraq.

Conoco also repurchased $2.5 billion in common stock, allocated $4.3 billion toward its capital spending program, and paid $700 million in dividends in the quarter.

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