February 11, 2020 / 2:27 PM / 12 days ago

Occidental cuts 2020 capex, to book $1.7 billion charges in fourth quarter

(Reuters) - Occidental Corp said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter results would include about $1.7 billion in charges and further cut its spending as the shale producer reduces costs following its $38 billion purchase of rival Anadarko Petroleum.

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Occidental Petroleum is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The Anadarko deal was an enormous bet on the shale boom continuing and Occidental’s ability to find ready buyers for unwanted assets. However, the plan has since run headlong into falling oil and natural gas prices and a dearth of buyers.

Occidental has had to slash costs, cut jobs and pull back on expansion plans to show investors it would fully protect its dividend.

The company told investors it would produce more oil and gas this year even with lower spending, sending its shares up 3.8%. However, the stock is still down 31% since the company’s interest in Anadarko became public.

Occidental projected fourth-quarter production of 1.402 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) from continuing operations, above analysts' average estimate of 1.337 million boepd, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (bit.ly/3btH5HT).

The company now expects to spend between $5.2 billion and $5.4 billion, $100 million below its earlier forecast.

“We continue to view 2020 as a transitory year for the company as Occidental looks to reset its production trajectory at a reduced pace, execute on stated debt reduction & monetization efforts, and bring down the already leading corporate decline rate,” SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Neal Dingmann wrote in a note.

The charges include about $1 billion associated with the Western Midstream stake sale and $655 million related to severance, integration and other costs stemming from the Anadarko deal.

In January, Occidental announced plans to lower its stake in pipeline operator Western Midstream to below 50% this year.

The charges are expected to be partly offset by a $475 million gain from the formation of a U.S. shale drilling joint venture with Colombia’s state-run oil company Ecopetrol SA and a $84 million gain on derivatives, the company said on Tuesday.

Occidental also expects synergy realizations to lower overhead expenses to $2.2 billion in 2020 and maintained its annual production growth forecast at 2% for the year.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair and Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sriraj Kalluvila

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