ExxonMobil posts 53 per cent quarterly profit rise

ExxonMobil Corp reported a 53-per cent increase in quarterly profit, helped by a surge in natural gas production in the US and Qatar, and a lower tax rate.

The better than expected profit came as oil demand rose last year and according to the US government another 1.5 per cent gain is expected this year as businesses' and
consumers' appetite for fuels like diesel and gasoline rise as the global economy recovers slowly.

The energy giant's exploration and production results also rose on higher oil prices, which climbed 12 per cent from a year earlier to average around $85 per barrel in the fourth quarter. Analysts say Exxon's bottom line was also helped by lower taxes.

The company's acquisition of US gas producer XTo Energy Inc in June has been a drag on the shares of the company, but the oil price rally has boosted the stock in recent months with the company's shares trading around the highest levels in about two years.

The Irving, Texas-based company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $9.25 billion, or $1.85 per share, as against $6.05 billion, or $1.27 per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Oil-equivalent production was up 19 per cent from the year-ago quarter, boosted by liquefied natural gas operations in Qatar, according to the company.