Exxon Mobil Earnings Call Nuggets: Refining Downtime and Maintenance Outlook

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Refining Downtime

Faisel Khan – Citigroup: If you could elaborate a little bit more on the refining downtime? I know you said this was the most downtime you’ve had in the last five years. But it looks like the last two quarters in a row throughput has been relatively lower versus kind of 4Q last year and 3Q last year. Can you discuss kind of how these plants are coming back online and how this is going to trend for the rest of the year?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: Yeah, if you look across the year, the first quarter also had a high turnaround workload. So, if you look at how we’re doing this year, the first quarter was high, but the second quarter was even higher. And certainly, if you look prior to this year over the last five years, it was considerably higher than normal. In fact, about 9% of our capacity was off-line for planned maintenance in the quarter and we typically average about 4% to 5%.

Faisel Khan – Citigroup: And then going forward, is this – all of these plants back up and running? Are you still have a significant amount of downtime?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: No, this activity is now behind us. And by and large all those units are back online and an up and running. The other thing I’ll mention, Faisel is we have a long-standing practice of implementing improvement projects, minor projects any time we have these large facilities down for an extended time. And we have certainly taken advantage of that opportunity and done a few things at each of the sites to further improve the advantages that they have, Joliet will be an example in the Midcon where we’ve done a few things to help it improve our distillate production there. So, big downtime, all of it planned, all of it coming back up, and we are looking forward to the third quarter and getting these things again back up and running and produce some product…

Faisel Khan – Citigroup: Last question from me. On U.S. Upstream capital expenditures, look like it ticked up fairly significantly from the first quarter of this year to about $2.6 billion, can you tell us what’s going on in the U.S. CapEx and how that’s going to trend going forward. Are you ramping up your rig program in different areas or how is that progressing?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: Yes, we did see a little, if you are looking at quarter-over-quarter in the U.S. Upstream CapEx was up just a little bit. It wasn’t anything in particular I can point to, we are doing, we have added some rigs drilling activity is a little higher. And just a number of other spend across the business.

Faisel Khan – Citigroup: I was looking for the – on the first quarter to the second quarter, it looked like a big ramp up. Is that increased rig activity or is that – I thought you guys were cutting back on CapEx in North America on the rig count, but that was one of the things that came out of the analyst meeting but maybe I’m wrong?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: What you are looking sequentially we are up, we had a couple of minor XTO based acquisitions, we added some more acreage in the Woodford that I mentioned and we had a couple of other items. Additionally, drilling was up quarter-on-quarter sequentially by about $100 million. We did have also a net increase in rig activity by a couple of rigs. So it’s continuing the program of ramping up the production capability of the liquids and also taking advantage occasionally when we have an opportunity to bolt on a nice piece of acreage that fits in one of our big areas.

Maintenance Outlook

Edward Westlake – Credit Suisse: Actually a follow-on from Faisel’s questions. Just on the backend and refining and chemicals. Do you think third quarter will be sort of fully clear or will you be fully back up sort of in the fourth quarter?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: We’ll be –we always have a little plant maintenance across the quarters and there’ll be some – but if you’re looking across our major plants and the bulk of our maintenance and turnaround activity is behind us, but we’ll always have a little bit. But particularly, if you’re really looking at the second quarter heading into the third quarter and the fourth quarter this year, yeah, there’ll be a much lower rate of maintenance activity.

Edward Westlake – Credit Suisse: And you flagged Singapore startup cost, obviously, a big plant. I mean, any number that we could about in terms of the sort of scale of that in the second quarter, so that we can model it for the third quarter?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: Total OpEx in there was up a little bit. Singapore was an item, but it’s not real significant in terms order of magnitude. So as we continue to ramp up a little bit, you’ll see a little more there, but nothing I can and would really signal out as being material.

Edward Westlake – Credit Suisse: Then, a general question on LNG. I mean, obviously, Canada, there’s a big opportunity, Tanzania and Golden Pass exports, I mean, do you think we’ll talking about that at the Analyst Day next year with some granularity or do you think it’s further off in the future?

David S. Rosenthal – VP, IR and Secretary: I think as we typically do at the analyst meeting, we’ll provide an update on all of those opportunities as they progress and hopefully by then we can we can give you a little more granularity in terms of expectations. But a number of things to look at and work on in the meantime. I think the good news for us is we have a number of potentially attractive large-scale opportunities out there and we’re assessing all of them and we will look forward to talking about it more in March and of course, in particular here in the U.S. we’re dependent on getting the permit for non-Free Trade Agreement countries to progress that project; but in the meantime, as I mentioned in my remarks, we are working on other permits. And yeah, by the time we get to March, we hope to be able to give you a good update on that.