U.S. oil and gas producer EOG Resources Inc. beat analysts’ estimate for first-quarter profit and declared a special dividend of $1 per share on May 6, as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and increased travel demand lift crude prices.

WTI futures in the U.S. gained 23% in the first quarter after the pandemic hammered fuel demand in 2020, sparking optimism among shale producers.

EOG’s average crude oil prices jumped nearly 39% to $58.02/bbl in the quarter, from the last three months of 2020.

However, total production fell to 778,900 boe/d from the prior quarter's 801,500 boe/d, hit by the Winter Storm Uri that swept across U.S. central and southern states in mid-February.

A clutch of U.S. oil and gas producers have recently raised their dividends. Chevron Corp., the No.2 U.S. oil producer, has increased its quarterly payout by 5 cents to $1.34 per share, while Marathon Oil Corp. raised it to 4 cents per share from 3 cents. Continental Resources Inc. reinstated its dividend.


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EOG’s March-quarter adjusted net income rose to $946 million, or $1.62 per share, from $411 million, or 71 cents per share, in the fourth.

Analysts had expected a profit of $1.48 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.

On May 5, rivals Marathon Oil and APA Corp., an affiliate of Apache Corp., also beat first-quarter profit estimates.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:08 a.m. CT May 7.