HOUSTON, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- -- Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. energy company, said Friday its profit rose 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, thanks to higher refining margins.
Despite declines in oil production, the Texas-based energy giant said it earned nearly 1 billion U.S. dollars in the last three months of 2012.
Net income was 44.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, up 9 percent from a year earlier, the company said.
Exxon Mobil attributed the growth mostly to asset sales and stronger performance in the company's refining and chemical products divisions.
Though the company's fourth-quarter output was down 5 percent from a year ago, the drop was buoyed by fourth-quarter earnings gains in its refining division, which jumped 1.3 billion dollars from the same period a year ago.
The company's chemical division earned 415 million dollars more than the year-earlier period, also because of higher margins.
The results "reflect the value of our integrated business model and other competitive advantages," said David Rosenthal, the company's vice president of investor relations, during a conference call.
Refiners fared better than any other energy sector in 2012 as U. S. crude production rose to the highest level since 1993, exceeding demand and keeping U.S. oil prices much lower than imports.
Valero Energy Corporation, the world's largest independent petroleum refiner and marketer, also reported a surprisingly strong profit for the fourth quarter of 2012 as it swapped out foreign crude for cheaper domestic oil.