Occidental Petroleum sets deadline for bids on Wyoming, Colorado properties

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp has asked for bids by July 1 for properties it is selling in Wyoming and Colorado, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said on Wednesday.

The company has been struggling with debt taken on in last year’s $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum, an ill-timed bet on rising shale oil prices ahead of a market crash.

Wyoming’s State Lands and Investment Board plans to hold a public hearing early next week to decide if it will bid on the surface and mineral properties, Gordon said.

Occidental is the largest private landowner in Wyoming, where it is focused mainly on development in the Powder River Basin. It acquired millions of mineral and surface acres in Wyoming and Colorado with the purchase of Anadarko last year, and hoped at one point to fetch as much as $700 million in the sale, according to people familiar with the offering.

Occidental declined to comment on the bidding process.

“I don’t think you often get opportunities like this, so it’s well worth our time to investigate,” Gordon, a Republican, said in an interview.

The state is working with Barclays investment bank to determine the value of the properties and what sort of income it could receive from oil and gas development, mining, grazing, hunting, solar or wind development, or tourism, said Gordon.

The decision on bidding will be based on likely investment returns, Gordon said, with money coming from the $7 billion Wyoming Permanent Mineral Trust Fund.

Occidental received 13 bids in the first round of its sales process, Chief Executive Vicki Hollub told analysts during a May 6 earnings call, adding the company expected to be able to close on that asset late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter.

A sale would reduce the debt load of about $40 billion that Occidental took on with the Anadarko purchase.

Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Grant McCool and Peter Cooney