In its first quarter results announced today, energy giant Chevron's (NYSE:CVX) global oil production was up by 6% versus the year ago period, but total revenue declined 12%. Nevertheless, earnings were up from a year ago due to improved downstream margins and Permian Basin production increases. 

Oil prices plunged near the end of the quarter, when oil demand plunged due to COVID-19. Chevron says it is "responding to these unprecedented challenges by making changes to what we control." Specifically, Chevron announced a further $2 billion drop in capital spending for 2020, after previously announcing a 20%, or $4 billion, reduction. 

deep sea oil rig

Image source: Getty Images.

Dividend is priority

Chevron is still trying to maintain its dividend among reductions in capital expenditures, suspension of share repurchases, and $1 billion in operating expense cuts, however. Chevron Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth said that protecting the dividend is a financial priority, along with maintaining a strong balance sheet, and increasing a focus on capital spending.

The company has generated over $1.6 billion in proceeds so far this year from asset sales completed in March and April, as it works to shore up its financial position. Cash flow from operations for the quarter was down 8% from the year ago period. 

CEO Wirth said the safety of its people and operations were the focus during the ongoing pandemic. "Our products support the efforts of healthcare providers and first responders around the globe and fuel the transportation that keeps global supply chains moving," he concluded.