Exxon, Shell Profits Fall Sharply in Quarter; Phillips Suffers Loss

Exxon and Shell Oil reported sharp declines in their quarterly earnings Friday and Phillips Petroleum said it lost money, with the continuing slump in crude prices cited as the main reason for the companies' poor showing.

New York-based Exxon, the nation's largest oil company, reported that its net income declined 37.4%, compared to the same period a year earlier.

Revenue for the three months ended March 31, totaled $19.45 billion, down 12.5% from a year ago.

Shell Oil, the sixth-largest oil company, said its earnings dropped 61% to $108 million in the first quarter. Shell's revenue totaled $4.5 billion, down 4%.

Phillips, the nation's 12th-largest oil company, said it lost $32 million in the first quarter, compared to a profit of $96 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 18% to $2.54 billion.

All three companies attributed their performances to the continuing impact of last year's oil price collapse.

L. G. Rawl, Exxon's chairman, said the company's exploration and production earnings suffered in comparison to the 1986 first quarter because crude oil prices averaged lower on a quarter-to-quarter basis.

Domestic exploration and production totaled $297 million in the quarter, against $302 million in the same period a year earlier, while foreign profit in that sector fell to $662 million from $872 million, the company said.

Margins in refining and marketing were especially hard-hit in the quarter, Rawl said.

Shell President John F. Bookout said his company's earnings were impaired by "lower selling prices for crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids."

Bookout said the drop was offset somewhat by higher crude oil and natural gas production and lower expenses. Sales of refined products also were up.

"Total refined product sales volumes were up 23%," said Bookout. "Gasoline sales volumes through service stations rose 11%, well above the industry's growth rate."

Shell Oil is wholly owned by the Royal Dutch-Shell Group, based in London.

At its Bartlesville, Okla., headquarters, Phillips Chairman C. J. Silas said his company also suffered from a lower average price for crude in the first quarter.

"Prices for natural gas and natural gas liquids also were lower, and we experienced a decline in crude oil production as a result of our recently completed asset sales program."

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