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UPDATE 3-Exxon launches major reorganization of exploration units

John Benny and Jennifer Hiller

(Adds earnings forecast, details on units, context, second byline, updates share price)

HOUSTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp on Thursday outlined a major reorganization of its global exploration business aimed at reversing weak oil and gas output.

Chief Executive Darren Woods, who took over the helm two years ago, has spent billions of dollars to buy production, build new pipelines and expand refineries after a series of costly misfires on deals under his predecessor Rex Tillerson.

Woods, who will address Wall Street analysts on an earnings call on Friday for the first time as CEO, has been pleading with investors for patience as he works through changes to its sprawling businesses. Woods, an Exxon veteran, replaced Tillerson who became U.S. Secretary of State in February 2017.

Its oil and gas production has declined for nine of the last 10 quarters. Exxon has spent heavily on U.S. shale and deep-water blocks in Brazil and Guyana to revamp its sluggish production.

The new companies - ExxonMobil Upstream Oil & Gas Co, ExxonMobil Upstream Business Development Co and ExxonMobil Upstream Integrated Solutions Co - are designed to help the company achieve his plan to double profits by 2025 and better coordinate oil and gas production with logistics and refining operations.

"Our focus is on increasing overall value by strengthening our upstream business and further integrating it with the downstream and chemical segments," Senior Vice President Neil Chapman said in a statement.

Exxon's shale drilling arm, XTO Energy Inc, which it acquired for $41 billion in 2009, will be part of the Upstream Oil & Gas, a spokesman said by phone. XTO President Sara Ortwein will continue to oversee its operations.

One of the new business units will oversee its existing portfolio of exploration projects, and handle future acquisitions. Analysts have been pushing Exxon to sell some of its assets to improve returns.

Overall, the reorganization puts new focus on integrating its exploration those acquisitions into its logistics and refining businesses, the company said in a statement.

Analysts expect Exxon to report earnings of $1.08 per share for the fourth quarter, excluding one-time items, according to data from Refinitiv.

The split of its upstream business into three new separate companies will be effective April 1.

Exxon shares edged up 0.4 percent to $72.60 at mid-afternoon. They dropped to $65.51 in December, a level it last traded at in October 2010.

(Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel and Richard Chang)