As oil and gas prices increased, U.S. oil and gas major Chevron returned to profit in the fourth quarter of 2021 from a loss in the prior-year period when the pandemic-driven oil and gas market downturn impacted the industry’s performance.

Chevron on Friday reported earnings of $5.1 billion for the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with a loss of $665 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. This is Chevron’s fourth-consecutive quarterly profit.

Included in the current quarter were asset sale gains of $520 million, losses on the early retirement of debt of $260 million, and pension settlement costs of $82 million.

The oil major’s total revenues in the fourth quarter of 2021 were $48 billion, compared to $25 billion in the year-ago period.

When it comes to its full-year 2021 performance, Chevron recorded earnings of $15.6 billion, compared with a loss of $5.5 billion in 2020.

“In 2021, we delivered record free cash flow and accelerated our progress towards a lower carbon future,” said Mike Wirth, Chevron’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re an even better company than we were just a few years ago. We’re more capital and cost-efficient, enabling us to return more cash to shareholders.”

During 2021, Chevron increased its quarterly dividend per share by 4 per cent to $1.34 and repurchased $1.4 billion of company stock, all while increasing return on capital employed to 9.4 per cent and reducing debt by $12.9 billion. The company raised its dividend per share an additional 6 per cent to $1.42 earlier this week and guided first quarter 2022 buybacks to the top of its $3 to $5 billion annual guidance range.

Chevron’s net oil-equivalent production grew in 2021 to a record 3.10 million barrels per day. The company also added 1.3 billion barrels of net oil-equivalent proved reserves in 2021. The largest net additions were from assets in the Permian Basin, the Gulf of Mexico, and Australia while the largest net reductions were from assets in Kazakhstan.

Worldwide net oil-equivalent production was 3.12 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is a decrease of 5 per cent from a year ago.

In 2021, the company made progress to advance its lower carbon future as it set targets to lower the carbon intensity of its operations and adopted a 2050 net-zero aspiration for upstream scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Chevron also expanded its renewable fuels business, formed the Chevron New Energies organisation that aims to grow hydrogen, carbon capture, and offsets businesses, and tripled its associated planned capital investment to approximately $10 billion through 2028.

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