Occidental Petroleum, the fourth-largest U.S. oil company, said its first-quarter profit jumped 46% to $1.5 billion, or $1.90 per share, from $1.1 billion, or $1.31 a share, a year earlier thanks to higher oil prices, a familiar refrain among oil majors this earnings season. On an adjusted basis, California-based Occidental earned $1.96 a share, compared with the $1.80 analysts were expecting.
Net sales rose 24% to $5.7 billion, well above the $5.2 billion analysts were expecting. Profits at Occidental's chemicals business rose more than sevenfold to $219 million from $30 million a year earlier. Last month, Occidental trimmed its production forecast to 711,000 to 721,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, but today the company said it produced 730,000 barrels per day in the quarter.
Occidental (OXY) raised its capital spending plan for 2011 by $700 million to $6.8 billion. That includes $500 million for the Shah gas project in Abu Dhabi that Occidental is paying to reflect the past three years of work done on the $10 billion project, according to Reuters.
The company's realized price for worldwide crude oil was $92.14 per barrel for the first quarter of 2011, compared with $74.09 per barrel for the first quarter of 2010, according to a statement. Natural gas liquids prices rose to $52.64 per barrel in the quarter from $47.48 a barrel a year earlier.