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Exxon notes flexibility of investments

U.S. supermajor said it can still adjust its investment program for the year.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 2, 2016 at 9:23 AM
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NEW YORK, March 2 (UPI) -- Exxon Mobil said Wednesday it has room to adjust its investment program even after it outlined spending plans for the year at 25 percent below 2015 levels.

Exxon said it's on pace to start operations at 10 new projects through next year that will add another 450,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day to its portfolio. Spending of $23 billion, however, represents a 25 percent decrease from last year.

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"We have the financial flexibility to pursue attractive opportunities and can adjust our investment program based on market demand fundamental," Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said in a statement. "We are focused on maximizing benefits across the energy value chain."

Without offering specifics on 2016, the company's top executive said Exxon has been able to increase its dividends for 33 years in a row through 2015, with an average increase of 10 percent over the last decade.

The company stressed it had a commitment to shareholder value and long-term investment opportunities.

"On average, 48 cents of every dollar generated by the business during the last five years has been distributed to shareholders," the company said.

Exxon in February reported fourth quarter earnings of $2.8 billion, down from the $6.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. The company estimated full-year 2015 earnings of $16.2 billion, against $32.5 billion in 2014.

Its sentiment on shareholder value is in contrast with its industry peers. U.S. supermajor Chevron reported a loss of $588 million for the fourth quarter, compared with year-on-year earnings of $3.5 billion. The loss was the first for Chevron in more than a decade and follows a 2015 move to cut about 2 percent from its global payroll.

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