As an integrated energy company, Chevron is involved in every aspect of the oil and natural gas industries. This includes exploration and production, refining, chemical manufacturing, marketing and transportation, and power generation. Much of Chevron’s growth over recent years has come from success in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. This process involves withdrawing large volumes of water to access previously unreachable oil and gas reserves. It has led to a dramatic increase in the production of shale gas and tight oil plays, particularly in the U.S. As of 2020, Chevron’s net number of productive oil wells in the U.S. amounted to 31,380, far more than in any other country.
While upstream activities get more media attention, Chevron’s downstream operations are also noteworthy. In addition to refined petroleum and natural gas, Chevron supplies lubricants such as polyalphaolefin. The firm also runs convenience stores in the U.S., which lends itself to widespread brand recognition. However, in 2020, the company notably decreased its downstream capital and exploratory expenditures, with most allocated towards upstream research, such as exploring for new reserves. Nevertheless, the downstream segment was the only of Chevron's business segments generating a net income in 2020. Upstream operations had been hampered that year by lower fuel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As with other oil and gas conglomerates, Chevron has experienced tensions with environmentalists. The company directly contributes a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to those that its hydrocarbon products release at their end use. Petroleum spills have been an issue as well, but Chevron endeavors to recover much of what is lost.