February 2, 2016 10:58 am
Updated: February 2, 2016 4:39 pm

Pump prices help Imperial Oil avoid loss as crude takes hit

An Esso station.


CALGARY – Imperial Oil Ltd. says its fourth-quarter profit fell dramatically as a result of lower oil prices, although some its refinery and chemical operations weren’t affected to the same degree.

The company earned $102 million in the fourth quarter, down from $671 million in the same period a year ago, when oil prices were significantly higher.

The result reflect a $289-million net loss for Imperial’s “upstream” operations, which include oilsands and conventional oil production as well as natural gas production.

Its downstream operations, which include refining oil into gasoline and other products as well as retailing operations like supplying Esso and other gas stations, remained profitable. That side of Imperial’s business earned $352 million, down from $397 million a year ago.

MORE: Canadians paying more for gas while U.S. pump prices hit 7-year lows

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Imperial’s petrochemical business earned $74 million, up from $63 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The Calgary-based subsidiary of ExxonMobil says it average realized price for a barrel of synthetic oil was down 31 per cent compared with a year ago, while it was down 56 per cent for a barrel of bitumen.

It’s average realized price for natural gas was down 31 per cent per thousand cubic feet.

Gasoline prices in Canada have fallen but not as much as in U.S. cities and were actually higher in January compared to the same month last year, despite oil’s continued drop.


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