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By Sabrina Valle
HOUSTON (Reuters) -Exxon Mobil Corp on Monday said its first-quarter results could top a seven-year quarterly record, with operating profits from pumping oil and gas alone of up to $9.3 billion.
A snapshot of the largest U.S. oil company's quarter ended March 31 showed operating profits from oil and gas, its biggest unit, could jump by as much as $2.7 billion over the prior quarter's $6.6 billion.
Exxon does not hedge, or lock in oil sales, and results generally match changes in energy prices. Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed up oil by 45% last quarter over the final period of 2021, to an average of $114 per barrel, the highest in seven years.
The estimates suggest total earnings for the quarter of about $9.8 billion at the mid-point of Exxon's estimates, according to Scotiabank global equity research.
Exxon shares, which have jumped 36% year to date, rose slightly on Monday to $83.16. Official results are expected to be released on April 29, according to a securities filing.
The outlook implies adjusted earnings around $2.29 per share, Scotiabank analyst Paul Cheng said in a note. The total would guarantee Exxon its highest quarterly profit since at least 2014.
The blockbuster oil and gas profits offer a preview of what lies ahead for other firms' oil earnings. Such results could strengthen calls by U.S. and European Union lawmakers for windfall profit taxes on energy companies.
Final results could be dampened by impairments to Exxon's Russian operations. The company last month said it would phase out of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. The oil company has $4 billion in assets at risk to potential seizure and faces a 1% to 2% hit to production and revenue from the move.
"Depending on the terms of its exit from Sakhalin, the company may be required to impair its investment in the project up to the full book value," it said in a filing.
High oil and gas prices accelerated after Russia's invasion and sanctions were imposed on its oil, coal and LNG. Global oil prices hit a 14-year high in the first quarter and have since cooled as the U.S. announced a release of emergency stocks and China began a lockdown.
Operating profits in refining could be up to $300 million higher than the $1.5 billion earned in its fourth quarter, while its chemicals business could decrease by as much as $300 million compared with the previous quarter's $1.3 billion profit.
(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Pullin)