Exxon Mobil Chief Gives Facelift to Refining and Chemical Operations

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Oil and gas United States Oil Fund LP (ETF) (NYSEARCA:USO)

Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Darren Woods is restructuring the company’s refining and chemical operations in efforts to boost profits among unstable oil and natural gas prices, according to a spokeswoman.

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The changes are the most comprehensive to date by Woods, who became chief executive in January. Before taking control at Exxon, Woods ran Exxon’s refining operations and beforehand was a senior executive in the global chemicals unit.

The goal of the restructuring is to increase profits from the fuel and chemicals businesses as Exxon works to improve its exploration and production operations. The restructuring shall combine the fuels and lubricants division with the supply and refining divisions. The changes are intended to streamline operations and increase profitability.

Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker stated the company expects it will “improve decision making and enhance performance in the market” in a statement. Huffaker said she was unaware if there would be any impact on jobs.

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Exxon operates 22 refineries in 14 countries, which process nearly 5 million barrels of oil per day. The company builds chemical and refining plants at the same location, permitting the shift of production between fuels or chemicals based on demand.

Wood’s changes come as Exxon seeks to grow the refining division. Exxon is investing $20 billion through 2022 to grow its chemical and oil refining plants on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The refining and chemicals divisions generated over $4.2 billion each to 2016 earnings, compared to the $196 million profit from exploration and production. Some quarters, Exxon would not generated profits were it not for the refineries.

So far this year, the company’s oil and gas business rebounded back to a $5 billion profit during the first nine months due to stronger crude prices. Refining earnings were $4.03 billion and chemicals $3.25 billion totaled for this year’s first three quarters.

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