ExxonMobil noted estimated earnings of $6.8 billion for third-quarter 2021, an increase of $7.4 billion compared to third-quarter 2020 on improved demand and strong operations. Third-quarter capital and exploration expenditures were $3.9 billion, bringing year-to-date 2021 investments to $10.8 billion, as the company continued strategic investments in its advantaged assets, including Guyana, the Permian basin, and chemicals.
Oil-equivalent production in the quarter was 3.7 million b/d. Excluding entitlement effects, divestments, and government mandates, oil-equivalent production increased 4% versus the prior-year quarter, including growth in the Permian and Guyana.
During the quarter, production volumes in the Permian averaged about 500,000 boe/d, an increase of about 30% from third-quarter 2020. The focus remains on continuing to grow free cash flow by lowering overall development costs and increasing recovery through efficiency gains and technology applications, the company said.
On the downstream side, fuels margins improved from second-quarter 2021 with increasing product demand. Lubricants continued to deliver strong performance, supported by above average basestocks margins, strong performance of the Rotterdam advanced hydrocracker, and lower operating expenses. Overall refining throughput was up 5% from the second quarter on improved demand and lower planned maintenance activity.
ExxonMobil reported quarterly earnings of $2.1 billion for its chemical segment. Industry margins remain historically strong but moderated in the quarter driven by increased industry supply.
ExxonMobil’s 2021 capital program is expected to be near the low end of the $16-19 billion range. In fourth-quarter 2021, the board will formally approve the corporate plan, with capital spending anticipated to be $20-25 billion annually.
During the quarter, the company paid down gross debt by an additional $4 billion. Year to date, ExxonMobil has reduced gross debt by $11 billion, and improved the total debt to capital ratio to 25%. The company expects to manage debt within a range of 20% to 25%.
In addition to reducing structural costs by $3 billion in 2020, the company has captured $1.5 billion in additional structural savings through the first three quarters of 2021. The company is on pace to exceed total structural cost reductions of $6 billion annually by 2023 compared to 2019 levels, with efforts continuing to identify further structural savings by leveraging the corporation's global scale and integration, it said.
ExxonMobil also plans to grow investments that lower emissions, leveraging the company's technology, scale, integration, and global footprint. Cumulative low-carbon investments are anticipated to be about $15 billion from 2022 through 2027.