US-based Chevron Corporation has posted earnings of $5.1bn in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to a loss of $665m incurred during the same quarter last year.

For the quarter that ended on 31 December 2021, the firm’s adjusted earnings rose to $4.9bn, from $298m in the previous year.

The company’s worldwide net oil-equivalent production dropped on a year-on-year basis, and stood at 3.12 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter 2021.

The figure represents a decrease of 5%, compared to the 3.28 million barrels per day recorded a year ago.

Chevron’s cash flow from operations (excluding working capital) stood at $9.4bn in Q4 2021.

Chevron chairman and CEO Mike Wirth said: “In 2021, we delivered record free cash flow and accelerated our progress towards a lower carbon future.

“We’re an even better company than we were just a few years ago. We’re more capital and cost efficient, enabling us to return more cash to shareholders.”

Last year, the firm’s debt dropped by $12.9bn, to $31.4bn.

The company’s upstream segment recorded $5.2bn in earnings for Q4 2021, up from the $501m earned in the same period a year ago. The increase was attributed to higher realisations.

In the US, Chevron’s upstream segment earnings totalled $2.97bn, compared with $101m a year earlier.

This surge is primarily attributed to higher gains on asset sales, increased sales volumes, and reduced exploration expense, the firm said.

The firm also reported $760m earnings in its downstream unit, rising from a loss of $338m in Q4 2020.

“The increase was mainly due to higher margins on refined product sales, and a $142 million favourable swing in foreign currency impacts between periods, partially offset by higher transportation and employee benefit costs,” Chevron said in a statement.

In 2021, Chevron committed to a 2050 net-zero target for upstream scope one and two emissions.

Wirth added: “We’re delivering greater value to stockholders today while working to meet the world’s growing energy demands in a lower carbon future.”

In December last year, Chevron announced the sale of 20% of its stake in Block 5, offshore Suriname.