Despite inevitable antitrust concerns, the companies could argue a merger would represent the United States' best shot at taking on the Saudi state-owned conglomerate and the world's other largest state-backed oil producers, one of the sources said.
Exxon's oil and gas output was 3.7 million barrels of oil and gas per day in the fourth quarter, down 8% compared with a year earlier. Refining lost $1.2 billion, compared with a profit of $898 million a year ago, on weak margins and lower output as the pandemic limited global travel.
For instance, Biden revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on his first day in office and recently pledged to replace the U.S. government's vehicle fleet with electric cars. Analysts on average expected a penny per share profit, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. Revenues fell 30.7 percent to $46.5 billion.
Exxon has always been under pressure from activist shareholders to focus more on renewable fuels and pivot away from its fossil-fuel legacy.
Although the need for oil supply continued even at the time when the pandemic is hitting many businesses badly, the two oil giants were not spared and suffered from big losses. - Chevron reported a fourth-quarter loss on January 29, 2021, to conclude a rocky year for oil companies as the coronavirus battered demand for petroleum products.
The move to add a board member comes as Exxon looks to burnish its environmental credentials as hedge fund Engine No. 1 leads a proxy fight to nominate four candidates to Exxon's board.
"Today's patchwork of announcements do not materially alter ExxonMobil's long-term trajectory nor do they position it to succeed in a changing world", the firm said.
London-based BP previous year announced it will seek to become a net zero producer of carbon emissions by 2050.
US oil companies each compete among one another and set their own varying production targets, with limited ability of Washington to intervene. Rivals BP and Chevron also posted annual losses.
"We began reinventing BP, with almost 10,000 people leaving the company", CEO Bernard Looney said in a statement.
Exxon shares, which have lost a quarter of their value in the past 12 months, rose 2.2% to $45.90 at the market open.