Chevron Says Production Falls After Strong Q4

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Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, said on Wednesday its production of oil and gas has declined from a relatively strong fourth quarter while work on two of its three biggest U.S. refineries cut into downstream performance.

Output from oil and gas wells - accounting for about nine tenths of the company's business - declined in the first two months of the first quarter from the previous quarter, due to maintenance in the Gulf of Mexico and weather-related downtime elsewhere.

Maintenance at Chevron's largest refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, the ninth-largest refinery in the country, led to a decline of 145,000 barrels per day in U.S. refining input from the previous quarter to 557,000 bpd.

Its domestic refining operations have already been hit hard by the shutdown of a key unit at its plant in Richmond, California, after a fire last August. That unit is due to start up at some point this quarter.

In the second quarter of 2012 - the last period of full U.S. refining production before the fire - input was 928,000 bpd.

Unlike past quarters, the San Ramon, California-based company did not indicate where its first-quarter earnings were headed in its quarterly interim update on Wednesday.

On the upstream side, Chevron's average U.S. oil-equivalent production of oil and gas from wells fell to 663,000 bpd in January and February from an average 674,000 for the entire fourth quarter.

Worldwide, the company's output came off a fourth quarter when it hit its highest level since mid-2011, with the company producing 2.64 million bpd in the first two months of the quarter, down from 2.67 million in the fourth quarter.

The company is targeting 2.65 million bpd this year, with growth of 25 percent expected by 2017.

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