Exxon Mobil Corp signaled in a regulatory filing that higher oil and gas prices and improved chemicals margins would aid fourth quarter results, but the gains would be overshadowed by an up to $20 billion asset writedown.
The largest U.S. oil producer has posted losses in the first three quarters of 2020 on an ill-timed spending increase that collided with a downturn in fuel demand and prices. It faces a proxy fight next year by an activist investor calling for deeper cuts, new directors and a refocusing on cleaner fuels.
The filing after the market closed on Wednesday showed Exxon expects higher prices will sequentially lift its oil and gas operating results by between $200 million and $1 billion. That business suffered a $383 million operating loss in the third quarter.
The filing also signaled another operating loss in refining, but higher chemicals margins drove operating profit in that unit by between $200 million and $400 million. In the prior quarter, refining posted a $231 million loss while chemicals turned a $661 million profit.
The writedown of mostly natural gas properties was previously estimated at between $17 billion and $20 billion and the filing narrowed the range of the impairment charge.