For the biggest US oil explorers, the first quarter was a study in contrasts. (Bloomberg) — For the biggest U.S. oil explorers, the first quarter was a study in contrasts: Chevron Corp. beat every analyst estimate, while larger rival Exxon Mobil Corp. fell short on both production and profit. The performances underscore the challenges facing the two descendants of John D. Rockefeller’s sprawling 19th century empire. For Chevron, it’s about rewarding long-suffering investors who had funded costly natural gas projects in Australia for more than a decade. For Exxon, Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is tasked with rebuilding an asset base that analysts say didn’t receive enough investment over the past 10 years. Chevron took full advantage of crude’s rally during the period with earnings and output potentially raising the chance of share buybacks later this year, though none were announced on Friday. Exxon, meanwhile, posted its worst first-quarter […]