April 26, 2012 / 6:31 PM / 6 years ago

Occidental first-quarter profit rises, sees steady U.S. growth

(Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N), the fourth-largest U.S. oil company, reported a rise in quarterly profit on record output and rising oil prices, and its shares rose more than 1 percent.

First-quarter production of 755,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (bpd) included domestic production of 455,000 bpd. Oxy predicted steady growth from its U.S. operations this quarter, which should rise by 6,000 to 8,000 bpd.

Apart from growth in California, Chief Executive Stephen Chazen said he expected drilling activity to accelerate in the oil-rich Permian basin centered around West Texas.

“Every forecast I’ve ever made for this business over the Permian over the last five or 10 years has been way too low,” Chazen said on a conference call. “The business is a very large business, larger than a lot of companies. And it will continue to grow at a pretty decent pace.”

Chazen also said international output should return to normal after Colombian insurgent attacks caused output there to fall by 7,000 bpd in the first quarter, and he expected Libya to return to its historical norm of about 14,000 bpd by year-end.

First-quarter net profit rose to $1.6 billion, or $1.92 per share, from $1.5 billion, or $1.90 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting $1.92, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales rose about 10 percent to $6.3 billion, the Los Angeles-based company said on Thursday.

    Higher oil prices drove much of that growth, with the global benchmark Brent crude price averaging $118 per barrel in the quarter, up from $105 a year before.

    Chazen said despite the company’s financial firepower, it was not looking at doing any major acquisitions because there were no real bargains that he could see.

    “We’re actually not a real estate company,” he said. “A lot of this stuff that’s for sale isn’t exactly oceanfront property. And so we’re pretty cautious about large-scale acreage acquisitions; so if we can steal it, that’s fine. But right now, we have so much on our plate.”

    Shares of Occidental were up 1.8 percent at $91.71 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Reporting By Steve James in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick

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