May 1, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Exxon posts first-quarter loss amid coronavirus-driven oil price collapse

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Photo: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

ExxonMobil reported Friday a $610 million first-quarter loss, down 126% from the same period last year, reflecting a $2.9 billion write-down linked to lower commodity prices.

Why it matters: Exxon is the largest U.S.-based multinational oil-and-gas company, and the loss underscores how the decline in oil price and demand from the coronavirus pandemic is hitting producers of all sizes.

  • "COVID-19 has significantly impacted near-term demand, resulting in oversupplied markets and unprecedented pressure on commodity prices and margins," CEO Darren Woods said in a statement.
  • It's the company's first quarterly loss in at least 32 years, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: Oil giants like Exxon, Shell and BP are sharply cutting spending amid the unprecedented downturn that's expected to put severe pressure on earnings in the second quarter and perhaps significantly longer.

  • Exxon has slashed expected 2020 capital spending to $23 billion, down from earlier plans to spend $33 billion.
  • However, Exxon, BP and Chevron are maintaining dividend payments to shareholders, unlike Royal Dutch Shell, which yesterday announced its first dividend cut since World War II.

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