Occidental Petroleum Cuts Spending on US Shale

By Patricia Miller


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Occidental Petroleum reduces spending on US shale, shifts focus to improve cash flow and repay debt, presenting potential opportunities for retail investors.

Illustrative Editorial of Occidental Petroleum website homepage. Occidental Petroleum logo visible on display screen.
Occidental Boosts Dividends, Cuts Costs for Shareholder Value

What You Need To Know

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) plans to reduce spending on its US shale operations in order to improve its cash flow and repay debt. This will result in relatively flat production for the year. The company will cut $320 million in capital investment for shale and exploration, and two rigs in the Permian region will be idled. However, spending will increase in the Gulf of Mexico, chemicals, and the enhanced oil recovery business.

Occidental attributes the reduction in Permian spending to efficiency and moderating activity. This marks a shift from previous years of increasing drilling activity in the Permian. The company aims to use the additional cash flow to repay debt associated with its acquisition of CrownRock LP.

Oxy surpassed expectations for its fourth-quarter profits, marking its highest quarterly output in three years while also reducing its spending. This achievement reflects a broader industry trend where U.S. oil and gas companies are enhancing drilling efficiency and cutting costs to meet investor demands for higher returns. Notably, Occidental has upped its quarterly dividend by 22% and slightly lowered its projected capital expenditures for 2024 to just under $5 billion, signaling a strategic approach to value creation for shareholders.

Under the leadership of CEO Vicki Hollub, the company is set on a path of sustainable growth, with plans to marginally increase its oil and gas production to 1.25 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. This growth is anticipated to come mainly from the U.S. Permian Basin and the Rocky Mountains, despite expected declines in Gulf of Mexico volumes. However, these projections do not account for the potential boost from the pending $12 billion acquisition of CrownRock, which could significantly enhance production capacity.

Despite a slight drop in oil prices, Occidental's increased production volume, especially a 4.1% rise in the Permian Basin, has helped it maintain a strong financial performance. The company also reported adjusted earnings that beat analyst expectations, showcasing its resilience amidst challenges such as rising operating expenses and material costs.

Moreover, Occidental is investing in a low carbon initiative, planning to construct facilities capable of capturing and sequestering carbon emissions, funded by its thriving oil business.

Why This Is Important for Retail Investors

  1. Understanding Occidental Petroleum's strategic decision to reduce spending on US shale operations provides retail investors with valuable insights into the company's financial health. This information allows investors to make informed decisions regarding their investment in the company.

  2. The focus on improving cash flow and repaying debt demonstrates Occidental's commitment to financial stability. This is crucial for retail investors who want to invest in a company with a solid financial foundation and reduced risk.

  3. The shift in Occidental's investment strategy, with increased spending in the Gulf of Mexico and other sectors, presents potential opportunities for retail investors. By analyzing these changes, investors can identify potential areas of growth and evaluate the company's long-term prospects.

  4. The announcement of idling rigs in the Permian basin has implications for the overall oil market. Retail investors can monitor these developments to gain a broader understanding of the industry landscape and potentially adjust their investment portfolios accordingly.

  5. Occidental's adjusted earnings surpassing analysts' estimates indicate its ability to generate profits even during challenging times. For retail investors, this positive financial performance may instil confidence in the company's ability to deliver returns on investment and attract further investor interest.

How Can You Use This Information?

Here are some of the investing ideas that can be explored using this information:

Value Investing

Value investing searches for undervalued companies that trade for less than their intrinsic values, with the expectation that they will eventually be recognized by the market.

Retail investors can analyze Occidental's reduced spending and focus on debt repayment to assess if the stock is undervalued and potentially consider investing.

Dividend Investing

Dividend investing targets companies that regularly distribute a portion of their earnings to shareholders as dividends.

Occidental's shift towards improving cash flow could lead to increased dividend payouts in the future, making it an opportunity for investors seeking income.

Defensive investing

Defensive Investing focuses on securing a portfolio by choosing companies that are less sensitive to economic downturns.

With Occidental prioritizing financial stability and debt reduction, it may be an appealing option for investors looking for defensive stocks with lower risk profiles.

Income Investing

Income investing targets steady earnings, typically through dividends from stocks or interest from bonds, providing investors with a regular income stream.

Analysis of Occidental's improved cash flow and potential dividend growth can help retail investors seeking consistent income generation from their investments.


Diversification spreads investments across various assets to reduce risk and volatility in a portfolio.

Retail investors may consider adding Occidental to their portfolio as part of a diversification strategy, considering its position in the oil sector and potential for long-term growth.

Read What Others Are Saying

Bloomberg: Occidental Cuts Two Permian Rigs as It Targets Flat Oil, Gas Output

Reuters: Occidental Petroleum beats profit estimates on strong U.S. production

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This article does not provide any financial advice and is not a recommendation to deal in any securities or product. Investments may fall in value and an investor may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

Patricia Miller does not hold any position in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Patricia Miller has not been paid to produce this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of ValueTheMarkets.com, does not hold a position or positions in the stock(s) and/or financial instrument(s) mentioned in the above article.

Digitonic Ltd, the owner of ValueTheMarkets.com, has not been paid for the production of this piece by the company or companies mentioned above.

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