HOUSTON (Reuters) -Refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp on Thursday reported record net profit of $2.8 billion for 2022 on strong motor fuel demand, high margins and refining output that exceeded its plants’ listed capacity.
Rebounding from a loss of $160 million in 2021 and two straight years of losses, the results for last year also exceeded the Houston-based company’s earlier forecast.
Earnings across the U.S. refining sector jumped last year as fuel prices climbed sharply on the post-COVID 19 pandemic economic recovery and on global fuel shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fourth quarter net profit was $806 million, compared with $21 million in the same period a year ago. Earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation for the final quarter was $1.2 billion, versus $139 million a year ago.
Last year’s strong profits allow it to pay down Citgo debt by $1.1 billion and pay dividends to its parent company, Citgo Holding, that were used to reduce its debt by $489 million, the company said.
Citgo, controlled by Venezuela’s state company PDVSA, but which in 2019 cut ties with the administration of President Nicolas Maduro after the U.S. imposed strict sanctions on the South American country.
Results reflect “a strong foundation of operational and commercial excellence, asset stewardship and safety,” Chief Executive Carlos Jordá said in a statement.
Citgo’s three refineries operated at record production levels in the fourth quarter. The trio processed a combined 797,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in the final quarter, a 104% utilization rate.
For the full year, the company’s total refining throughput was 811,000 bpd, compared with 730,000 bpd in 2021.
Exports for the year rose 35% over the prior year, to 182,000 bpd from 134,000 bpd. Higher product sales volumes contributed to strong gasoline and diesel margins, Citgo said.
(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)