By San Francisco Business Times

Oil and gas giant Chevron Corp. made a profit of $7.8 billion in the September quarter, more than double what it earned a year earlier.

San Ramon-based Chevron (NYSE: CVX) had sales of $64.4 billion in the third quarter, up from sales of $49.7 billion a year earlier, when its profit was $3.8 billion.

Those numbers work out to diluted per share earnings of $3.92 this time around, up from $1.87 a year earlier. Chevron had fewer shares outstanding in the most recent quarter -- 1,998,673,000 versus 2,006,785,000 a year earlier.

The company increased its earnings in both the upstream and downstream segments. In the upstream business -- finding oil and gas and getting them out of the ground -- it earned $6.2 billion in the third quarter, up from $3.6 billion a year ago. And in the downstream business -- refining and selling the stuff -- it earned $2 billion, up from $565 million a year earlier.

John Watson is Chevronâ¿¿s chairman and CEO.

Chevron also said this week it discovered more natural gas off the coast of Western Australia, where it is developing several big projects to supply the booming economies of Asia.

Two wells in the Carnarvon Basin, called Acme West-1 and Acme West-2, both encountered natural gas under 3,035 feet of water and at total depths of 15,558 feet and 14,590 feet, respectively. Theyâ¿¿re in an area adjacent to another Chevron discovery made last year.

Chevronâ¿¿s Wheatstone project will be developed in that area.

George Kirkland, Chevronâ¿¿s vice chairman, said the work off Australiaâ¿¿s coast is part of the companyâ¿¿s plan to become one of the top suppliers of liquefied natural gas in the world.

Chevron has bet big on Australia, and plans to invest billions of dollars there.

Melody Meyer is president of Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production Co.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010