Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two dominant American oil companies, reported a third consecutive quarterly profit on Friday as petroleum and natural gas prices continued to climb higher.
In the third quarter, the American benchmark oil price remained near a seven-year high, ending the period at $76 a barrel. Since then it has risen an additional $6 a barrel, suggesting that the final quarter could be even more profitable for the oil companies.
While the Delta variant threatened the economic revival in the summer, so far this fall natural gas prices have also climbed around the world.
Exxon said it made $6.8 billion in the three months that ended in September on revenue of $73.8 billion. The profit compared with $4.7 billion in the second quarter on revenue of $67.8 billion. Throughout most of 2020, Exxon and other oil companies lost money as commodity prices collapsed under the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic, which halted air travel and commuting.
Darren Woods, Exxon’s chief executive, said the company’s financial performance had significantly improved, reflecting strong operations and cost control, as well as increased demand.
Mr. Woods said the returns on the company’s core businesses — production, refining and chemical — would allow the Texas-based company to advance lower-carbon investments.
Chevron reported a $6.1 billion profit for the second quarter on revenue of $43 billion. The company made $3.1 billion in the second quarter on revenue of $37.6 billion.
“Third-quarter earnings were the highest since first quarter 2013 largely due to improved market conditions, strong operational performance and a lower cost structure,” said Mike Wirth, Chevron’s chief executive.
Exxon, Chevron and other major oil companies have shifted their emphasis from expanding exploration to a more disciplined, cautious approach to break the pattern in which higher prices led to increased production, which in turn led to a return to lower prices. Instead, the companies are using their cash to repurchase shares and reduce debt.
Chevron said its capital spending so far this year was 22 percent lower than a year ago. The company, which is based in San Ramon, Calif., reduced its debt by $5.6 billion and repurchased $625 million in shares during the quarter.