Chevron overtakes Shell amidst Q1 reports

Chevron has overtaken Shell to become the second largest of the Western oil majors.

The US-based oil giant is now worth $232bn in capitalisation terms, beating Shell's $215bn. Just half the size of Shell ten years ago, Chevron appears to have grown without sacrificing returns and setting what analysts perceive as more realistic targets. In 2011, Chevron's earnings were 53% higher than Shell's although this, in part, reflected Shell's decline in oil production. Shell has also fallen behind in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).

Q1 reports for Chevron show net income was $6.18bn, a slight year-on-year reduction. Net oil-equivalent production was was largely static at 2.65m boed, with upstream for the quarter declining some four percent to $5.92, reflecting a fall in US operations earnings, amid lower crude oil prices, that more than offset higher earnings from international operations. The company's downstream segment showed a Q1 13% earnings decrease to $701 million.

Meanwhile, Shell posted first quarter 2013 CCS earnings of $7.9bn, a four percent year-on-year increase. However, in a surprise move, the Dutch oil majore announced that CEO Peter Voser, who has served just four years in the post, will retire from the company during the first half of 2014. The company stated the decision was a personal one and does not represent a change in strategy for the company.

During Voser's tenure, the company's share price has risen at a steady pace with greater organisational stability. Voser's stated aim was to make Shell less bureaucratic - a target that appears to have been successful - with safety also improving.

There was also a corporate shake-up at Occidental Petroleum Corp after shareholders voted out Executive Chairman, Ray Irani. Previously the CEO, shareholders had criticized his high salary amidst claims he was trying to oust the company's current chief executive - something the board, and Irani, denies.

BP reported underlying profits for the first quarter of 2013 at $4.2bn, from $4.7bn in the same period last year. Operating cash flow in the quarter was $4bn, £600m from the previous year.

In a downturn, ConocoPhillips $2.1bn in Q1 earnings, almost $1bn off the previous year, although 2012 numbers included a $0.7bn contribution from downstream operations prior to the separation of Phillips 66 in April of that year.

In contrast, Phillips 66 has recorded a huge quarterly profits increase, up 120% to $1.4bn, from just $636m one year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $1.38bn.

Exxon Mobil's saw a very slight increase in its Q1 revenue, with a one percent rise at $9.5bn. Capital and exploration expenditure for the period were $11.8bn, including the $3.1bn acquisition of Celtic Exploration Ltd.

French oil major, Total recorded a 58% drop in net profits after taking a heavy loss in its withdrawal from a major Canadian project. The company has also been held back by falling oil prices, maintenance at refineries and flagging demand amid Europe's economic crisis.

Adjusted net income, fell seven percent to €2.9bn, with revenue is down six percent over the quarter to €48.1bn.

Finally German chemicals giant, FUCHS, reported largely flat EBIT with a single percent rise to €73.4m.  Sales revenues fell slightly due to currency effects and totaled €442m, slightly more than one percent lower than the previous year.