Occidental to Focus on U.S. Growth Amid Output Decline Abroad

Occidental Petroleum Corp., the largest onshore crude producer in the continental U.S., is focusing on domestic output growth as a drop in overseas production trimmed first-quarter earnings by $300 million.

Maintenance in Qatar, pipeline disruptions in Colombia and production contracts in the Middle East and North Africa forced a decline in sales volumes of the equivalent of 40,000 barrels of oil a day from the fourth quarter, reducing earnings by as much as $300 million, according to a company presentation released today after the close of trading in New York.

The presentation tomorrow at the Howard Weil energy conference in New Orleans is expected to be the first given by Chief Executive Officer Stephen I. Chazen since the company announced plans to form a search committee to find his successor on Feb. 14.

“Oxy is primarily a domestic oil producer,” the presentation says after noting that the Los Angeles-based company’s focus is on “growing our U.S. oil production.”

Shareholders and analysts including Cambiar Investors LLC and Oppenheimer & Co. and have said Occidental should consider selling or spinning off its international assets in a breakup that might be worth $35 billion.

Occidental fell less than 1 percent to $82 at 5:51 p.m. in New York. The company’s shares have fallen 27 percent since Chazen took over from former CEO Ray Irani in May 2011.

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