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The world’s third-largest oil company by market value saw another strong year on better performance from its refining business. Chevron’s 2012 earnings of $26.2 billion are the second highest result in company history, behind $26.9 billion in 2011.

But 2013 has begun on a challenging note for the energy giant with lower oil prices and weakening demand lowering profits in the first quarter. Even as demand remains challenging, the company is spending $36.7 billion on exploration and refinery upgrades to bolster oil and gas output, after it fell to a four-year low in 2012.

The company’s focus may be diluted, with the landmark $19 billion environmental lawsuit filed by residents of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest against it continuing to dominate the annual general meeting. Shareholders are asking fresh questions about the company’s lobbying practices, even as the company restarts business in Brazil after settling another criminal suit related to oil spills.

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$ Millions% change