Exxon, the largest U.S. oil company, reduced its capital and exploration expenditures for upstream operations 11.1% for the third quarter of 2014 from a year earlier. Oil production overall dropped 6.1%.
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However, minus the expiration this year of an Abu Dhabi onshore concession, the company's global liquids production actually was up slightly, largely on increases in North America. In the U.S., in particular, crude oil production was up 4.5%.
The company said it remained on track to meet its previous estimate of 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day for 2014.
Earnings for the third quarter still beat estimates, even as income from oil was pressured by the drop in overall production and falling oil prices.
Increases in downstream refinery and chemicals revenue rose, helping the company post overall earnings of $8.07 billion, or $1.89 a share, compared to $7.87 billion, or $1.79 a share, in the third quarter of 2013. Analysts were expecting the company to earn $1.71 a share, according to Thomson Reuters.
Earnings in Exxon's exploration and production business fell 4.4% to $6.42 billion. Its downstream business, meanwhile, saw earnings rise 73%, aided by margin growth. Earnings at its chemicals business increased 17%.
"Integration across Upstream, Downstream and Chemical gives us competitive advantages in scale, efficiency, technical and commercial capabilities, regardless of market fluctuations over the business cycle," Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said in a company press release.
While Exxon didn't point out the drop in oil prices in its press release, other major oil companies directly noted the impact in their quarterly reports this week. BP (BP) said Tuesday its earnings fell about 18% as a direct result of lower oil prices. ConocoPhillips (COP) said it would reduce its capital expenditures for 2015 by more than $700 million, or 4.2%, to offset an anticipated drop in oil income.
Oil prices have tumbled 24% since June, when Brent crude was priced at $111.80 a barrel. Brent was priced at $84.71 a barrel Friday. U.S.-based West Texas Intermediate crude was priced at $79.72 in early trading Friday, just off its 52-week low of $79.10.
-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in New York