Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. posted the biggest profits in their history, reaping the rewards of rising commodity prices amid supply disruptions and rising demand.

Exxon, which topped its previous record for quarterly profit by more than $3 billion, warned on Friday that global energy supplies will remain tight and expensive for the foreseeable future. Chevron, for its part, has promised investors a sharp increase in share buybacks, though it has warned that the cost of doing business will rise.

The US oil titans followed European peers Shell Plc and TotalEnergies SE in posting record second-quarter results, four months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine destabilized global commodity markets, fueling runaway inflation.

Shares of Exxon and Chevron rose in pre-open trading, continuing the trend that has seen oil stocks dominate the S&P 500 index this year.

The soaring profits in the oil sector come at a politically difficult time for an industry accused of profiting from the fallout from Vladimir Putin’s aggression and not investing enough in new drilling. Still, the recent drop in oil and gasoline prices may provide oil executives with some cover from the criticism they faced in June, when President Joe Biden accused Exxon of making “more money than God.”

With fears of a recession rising, the second quarter may end up marking the high point for the oil majors this year. International crude oil prices topped $120 a barrel between April and June, a 14-year high, but have since fallen 20%. U.S. refining margins have also deflated somewhat since hitting record highs, though natural gas prices remain high around the world.

Exxon’s second-quarter adjusted earnings of $4.14 a share beat the forecast of $3.98 according to the Bloomberg consensus. Net income reached $17.9 billion, up from the previous record set in 2008.

Chevron, for its part, recorded a profit of US$11.6 billion, which exceeded the previous record set in 2008 by almost 50%.

Chevron’s oil and natural gas production division led profits with $8.6 billion, more than double a year earlier. Refining also had a strong quarter, with earnings rising fourfold.

Chevron’s adjusted earnings per share came in at $5.82, the San Ramon-based company said in a statement, 86 cents above the Bloomberg consensus. Chevron has pledged up to $5 billion more for share buybacks just three months after its last raise.

surprising results

The magnitude of the results of the oil majors is a surprise even to analysts, who expected the sector to post a record quarter. It also underlines the depth of the energy crisis affecting economies around the world.

Chevron CEO Mike Wirth tried to refute criticism that the company is profiting and enriching investors at the expense of consumers.

“We more than doubled the investment compared to last year to grow all energy business lines both traditional and new,” Wirth said in the statement. “Chevron is increasing energy supply to help meet the challenges facing global markets,” he said, referring to the company’s progress in increasing oil production in the Permian Basin and acquiring a manufacturer of renewable fuels.

The rise in buybacks indicates that Wirth and his team expect strong cash flow to continue even after oil prices have fallen 20% in recent weeks. Chevron executives have insisted that shareholder rewards must be paid consistently through volatile commodity cycles and not be reduced when energy prices fall.

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