ConocoPhillips reported first-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations on May 4 as a vaccines-led return of travel demand and a winter storm that swept parts of the United States in February boosted prices for oil and gas.

Higher crude prices and deep cost cuts implemented last year at the peak of a downturn are helping U.S. oil and gas companies deliver improved first-quarter profit and cash flow.

Stronger fuel prices delivered cash flow from operations of $2.1 billion despite a $1 billion hit from the unraveling of hedges and restructuring expenses from ConocoPhillips’ acquisition of Concho Resources.

Conoco said it sold its oil and gas for an average $45.36 per barrel during the quarter, 17% higher than the year-ago period. However, production slipped 4% from a year ago due to the impacts of February's storm.

The company also outlined a plan to cut its gross debt by $5 billion over the next five years and to exit its 10% stake in Canadian producer Cenovus Energy Inc. by fourth-quarter 2022. Proceeds from the share sale will be used to increase stock buybacks, Conoco said.

Conoco became one of Cenovus’ largest shareholders in 2017 when it accepted 208 million shares of the company as part of the payment for some of its Canadian assets. As of close May 3, the stake would be worth C$2.06 billion ($1.67 billion).

Conoco’s total output, excluding Libya, was 1.49 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (MMboe/d), compared with 1.14 MMboe/d in the fourth quarter. It expects output this quarter to be 1.50 MMboe/d to 1.54 MMboe/d.

Its adjusted profit of 69 cents per share was well above analysts’ average estimate of 51 cents, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Shares of ConocoPhillips were off less than 1% at $52.42 in early trading.