SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) - Chevron Corp. expects fourth-quarter earnings to be "notably higher" than third-quarter profit.
The company said Thursday that its fourth-quarter results will be helped by bigger gains on asset sales and more oil and gas production.
Chevron is the nation's second-biggest oil company, and it earned $5.25 billion, or $2.69 per share, in the third quarter.
Analysts expect the company to report earnings of $3.03 per share when it posts fourth-quarter results on Feb. 1.
The San Ramon company reported a $1.4 billion gain from the 2012 swap with Royal Dutch Shell of stakes in natural gas fields off the coast of Australia.
U.S. oil and gas production rose 39,000 barrels per day during the first two months of the quarter on recovery from Hurricane Isaac and acquisitions that Chevron made in the Permian Basin of Texas.
International production rose even more, up 107,000 barrels per day in the first two months of the quarter, due to the lack of planned maintenance in Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom, Chevron said.
Chevron got an average of $97.61 per barrel for U.S. oil during the first two months, up 27 cents per barrel from the third quarter but below the $105.37 it received in the fourth quarter of 2011. It realized $3.14 per thousand cubic feet of U.S. natural gas, up 51 cents from the third quarter but down from $3.62 in 2011's fourth quarter.
International prices were mixed in the first two months of the fourth quarter, as Chevron got more for gas but slightly less for oil than a year earlier.
Refining margins "decreased significantly" both in the U.S. and overseas compared with the third quarter, Chevron said.
The company said oil for refining in the U.S. declined from the third quarter mostly due to the continued shutdown of a crude oil unit in Richmond, Calif. The company has said it expects the unit to be working early this year.
Before Thursday's update, shares of Chevron rose 93 cents in regular trading to close at $110.47. In extended trading, they were up another 74 cents to $111.21.
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