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Occidental Considers Selling Off Middle East Oil & Gas Assets

Occidental Petroleum may be considering a sale of oil and gas assets in Oman to reduce its debt burden, unnamed source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

The assets could fetch over $1 billion, the sources added.

Occidental has a debt load of some $40 billion, most of which it took on last year when it bought sector player Anadarko in what now many see as one of the worst-timed acquisitions in history, finalized just months before oil prices tanked. About $11 billion of this debt matures by 2022 and the company is actively seeking ways to conserve and generate cash.

The acquisition cost Oxy some $55 billion and aimed at expanding its presence in the U.S. shale patch, which got battered by the oil price crash. Because of the unfortunate timing of its acquisition of Anadarko, Oxy has become one of the worst-affected oil players in the United States. Asset sales, one of the usual means of reducing significant debt loads, will fetch a lot less than before the crisis if they go through at all.

Occidental has interests in three oil fields in Oman as well as assets in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar’s North Field, the largest gas deposit in the world. It is, however, not the only one selling assets in the Middle East. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported BP was selling about 10 percent in the Khazzan gas field in Oman, looking to get more than $1 billion for it.

Improving oil priced could help such divestments go through and help reduce debt loads. Meanwhile, Oxy has cut its capital spending program for his year by over 50 percent, outdoing its competitors in the cuts. The company said in May it planned to spend just $2.4-2.6 billion in capex this year, and cut costs by some $1.2 billion.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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