Imperial Oil raises dividend after quarterly profit more than doubles

By Nia Williams and Sourasis Bose

(Reuters) -Canada's Imperial Oil Ltd reported a jump in third-quarter profit and raised its dividend on Friday, boosted by higher energy prices as a result of tighter global supplies.

Oil companies are posting huge profits as crude supplies worldwide remain tight due to disruption from the war in Ukraine and moves to cut output during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While benchmark oil prices have recently cooled from 14-year peaks touched earlier in 2022, they were still more than 30% higher year-over-year during the quarter.

Imperial, majority-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp, said net earnings rose to C$2.03 billion ($1.49 billion), or C$3.24 per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, from C$908 million, or C$1.29 per share, a year earlier.

Over the last 18 months Canadian oil companies have focused on channeling bumper profits to shareholders. Imperial continued that theme on Friday, raising its quarterly dividend 29% to 44 Canadian cents a share and announcing a C$1.5 billion substantial issuer bid to buy back shares from investors.

"As of the end of the third quarter we have delivered record shareholder returns of C$5.1 billion this year, with more to come," Chief Executive Brad Corson said on an earnings call.

The Calgary-based company also completed the C$1.9 billion sale of XTO Energy Canada, which it joint-owned with Exxon, in the third quarter, and said it used the proceeds to reduce debt.

Imperial said its upstream production for the third quarter averaged 430,000 gross oil-equivalent barrels per day (boepd), slightly down from 435,000 boepd in the same quarter a year earlier.

The company also said its downstream quarterly refining throughput averaged 426,000 barrels per day (bpd), with capacity utilization of 100%, its highest in over 40 years.

Imperial shares were last up 8.2% at C$73.00 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

($1 = 1.3603 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Sourasis Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Marguerita Choy)