Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Occidental divesting Argentine assets, buying new U.S. assets

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) on Dec. 10 announced it has executed an agreement with a subsidiary of China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec) to sell its Argentine oil and gas operations for after-tax proceeds of approximately $2.5 billion.

Occidental also announced that it had executed agreements to purchase oil and gas properties in South Texas and North Dakota for about $3.2 billion. Additionally, Occidental announced that it has signed an agreement to increase its General Partner (GP) ownership in Plains All-American Pipeline Corp. (NYSE: PAA) to approximately 35 percent; and it has agreed to acquire the remaining 50 percent joint venture interest in the Elk Hills Power Plant.

Occidental expects all of these transactions to be completed no later than the end of the first quarter of 2011, subject to normal regulatory approvals.

Dr. Ray R. Irani, chairman and CEO of Occidental, said "In light of our outlook for improved free cash flow, the Board has agreed to increase our common dividend rate by 21 percent from 38 cents per quarter to 46 cents per quarter effective with the April 15th payment. The formal dividend declaration will be made by the Board of Directors in February."

The South Texas assets will be purchased from Shell for about $1.8 billion and currently produce approximately 200 million cubic feet per day of gas equivalent. Shell has owned and operated the properties for many years. The assets will be 100 percent operated by Occidental.

Occidental is purchasing, from a private seller, approximately 180,000 net contiguous acres in North Dakota which produce from the Bakken formation and are prospective in the Three Forks formation. The purchase price is approximately $1.4 billion. The assets currently produce approximately 5,500 BOEPD and Occidental's net risked reserve exposure is in excess of 250 million barrels of oil equivalent. Combined with Occidental's other interests in the Williston Basin, Occidental will have an interest in over 200,000 net acres and over 6,000 BOEPD of production. Occidental expects to grow production in the Williston Basin to at least 30,000 BOEPD over the next five years.

Occidental is purchasing an incremental 13 percent ownership in PAA's general partner, bringing its total ownership in the GP to approximately 35 percent. PAA's operations compliment Occidental's domestic oil and gas operations. Plains is one of the largest operators of oil pipelines in North America with operations in Texas, California, and North Dakota, among other areas. (Source: Market Wire, Dec. 10, 2010)

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