Slumping oil and gas prices were almost entirely responsible for revenues collapsing to US$32.77bn from US$51.82bn the year before, though the fall was actually nowhere near as bad as Wall Street had feared; the consensus estimate was for sales of US$27.7bn.
Earnings also topped estimates, coming in at US$2.04bn, or US$1.09 a share, versus US$5.59bn or US$2.95 a share a year earlier and the market consensus forecast of 76 cents a share.
As with its perennial rival Exxon, which also released results on Thursday morning, the impact of falling oil and gas prices was cushioned by a solid showing from the refining, or downstream, side of the business.
The upstream, or production & exploration, part of the business contributed just US$59mln to earnings, down from US$4.65bn the year before, whereas Downstream's profits surged to US$2.21bn from US$1.39bn.
"While downstream earnings remained strong, lower overall earnings reflected weaker market prices for both crude oil and natural gas, which depressed upstream profitability," said John Watson, chief executive of Chevron.
Refinery crude oil output averaged 777,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), down 61,000 boepd on last year's third quarter average, largely as a result of the divestment of its Caltex Australia subsidiary.
The integrated oil major gave a clear indication that it does not expect the oil price to revive any time soon by committing to further spending cutbacks.
“We expect further reductions in spending for 2017 and 2018, to the US$20 to US$24 billion range, depending on business conditions at the time. With the lower investment, we anticipate reducing our employee workforce by 6–7,000,” Watson said.
Further asset sales are also likely, but that is unlikely to save the jobs of 6,000-7,000 employees earmarked for the chop in 2017 and 2018.
Shares in Chevron were up 1.4% at US$91.18 at midday.