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Chevron slashes 2016 budget to weather low oil prices

Chevron, the second-largest U.S.-based oil producer, slashed its 2016 capital budget by 25 percent and said it would lay off roughly 10 percent of its workforce, one of the most-drastic reactions to date to the plunge in crude prices.

The price drop has forced Chevron and dozens of its peers to make tough decisions about what projects to fund or not fund in order to offset natural declines at its existing fields.

The choices are that much starker at large international oil giants like Chevron that rely heavily on their massive budgets to fund exploration projects crucial to finding new energy sources.

Chevron said on Friday it plans to spend between $25 billion to $28 billion next year and expects to further slash spending in 2017 and 2018 as well, an acknowledgment that oil prices are not expected to rise at all in the near future.

The San Ramon, California-based company also said it would lay off 6,000 to 7,000 workers as part of the cuts.

"We are focused on improving results by changing outcomes within our control," Chief Executive John Watson said in a statement.

Chevron posted a sharp drop in quarterly profit that still beat Wall Street's expectations due to cost cuts and strong refining margins.

The company reported net income of $2.04 billion, or $1.09 per share, compared with $5.59 billion, or $2.95 per share, in the year-ago period.

By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 76 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Production fell 1 percent to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d).

Profit at the company's downstream unit, which makes gasoline, lubricant and other refined products, jumped 49 percent. Refiners tend to be more profitable when oil prices are low.

Chevron cut operating and administrative expenses by 7 percent during the quarter, but it was not enough to fully offset the price drop.

Shares of Chevron rose 1.4 percent to $91.15 in pre-market trading on Friday. (Get the latest quote here.)