Occidental Petroleum

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Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Public company
Traded as
Industry Oil and gas industry
Founded June 1920
Headquarters 5 Greenway Plaza, Suite 110
Houston, Texas, 77046
Key people
Vicki A. Hollub (CEO)[1][2][3]
Products Oil, natural gas, petrochemicals
Production output
630 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (3,900,000 GJ) per day (2016)[3]
Revenue Decrease US$10.090 billion (2016)[3]
Increase -US$0.574 billion (2016)[3]
Increase -US$1.002 billion (2016)[3]
Total assets Decrease US$43.109 billion (2016)[3]
Total equity Decrease US$21.497 billion (2016)[3]
Number of employees
11,100, 7,100 of which are in the United States (2015)[3]
Website www.oxy.com

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy) is an American multinational oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, the Middle East, and Latin America.[4] Headquartered in Houston, Texas,[5] it is one of the largest American oil and gas companies based on 2015 year-end market capitalization.[6] Often abbreviated as "Oxy", in reference to its ticker symbol, the company is ranked on the Forbes Global 2000[5] and Fortune 500 list.[7] In 2015, it was the 16th largest gas producer[8] and 3rd largest oil producer in Texas.[9]



Occidental was founded in 1920 in California. In 1956 Occidental Petroleum came to the attention of Armand Hammer.[10] At Hammer's first association with Occidental, the company was run by Dave Harris, Roy Roberts, and John Sullivan. In 1957, Dr. Armand Hammer was elected president and CEO. In 1961, the company discovered the Lathrop Gas Field in the Arbuckle area of the Sacramento basin at Lathrop.[11] Over the next 10 years, Occidental expanded internationally with operations in Libya, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Trinidad, and the United Kingdom. Occidental won exploration rights in Libya in 1965 and operated there until all activities were suspended in 1986 after the United States imposed economic sanctions on Libya.

Occidental entered the chemical business with the acquisition of Hooker Chemical Company in 1968, 26 years after the contamination at Love Canal. It added to its chemical industries portfolio in 1988 with the outright purchase for $2 billion of Cain Chemical.[12] On July 6, 1988, an explosion and subsequent inferno on the Piper Alpha platform, operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd in the Scottish North Sea, resulted in 167 fatalities in what remains the world's most deadly offshore disaster.[13]

Tenure of Ray R. Irani[edit]

In 1990, Dr. Ray R. Irani became Occidental Petroleum Corporation's Chairman and CEO. He held the additional title of President from 2005 to 2007. Occidental Petroleum's compensation policies came under scrutiny in 2007 after it was announced that CEO Ray Irani collected $460 million in stock shares and salary in 2006.[14] In May 2011, Irani retired as CEO after the California State Teachers' Retirement System and Relational Investors, two major institutional Occidental shareholders, objected to the company's compensation policies for top executives.[15] President Stephen I. Chazen was named CEO of Occidental to replace Irani.[16] Since 1990, Occidental has gone from a collection of unrelated businesses to one that focuses on oil and gas.[17] During Irani's tenure as CEO, Occidental's market capitalization increased to more than $80 billion from $5.4 billion by 2011.[18]

Appointment of Vicki Hollub[edit]

Vicki Hollub, who had worked at Occidental since 1981 and joined the board in 2015,[2] was announced to be the new CEO effective as of the 2016 annual shareholders' meeting.[19] Hollub was appointed as president and CEO of Occidental Petroleum in April 2016, becoming the first female to serve as chief executive officer of a major U.S. oil and gas company.[20]

In 2015, Oxy was the 16th largest gas producer[8] and 3rd largest oil producer in Texas.[9] The company ranked #364 on the Forbes Global 2000 list in 2015.[5] In 2016, it also ranked on the Fortune 500 list.[7]

Phibro Energy trading[edit]

In 2009, Oxy acquired Citigroup's controversial Phibro energy-trading business, for its net asset value of approximately $250 million.[21] The unit was managed by Andrew J. Hall who received compensation of approximately $100 million per year in 2007 and 2008. After the acquisition, the division reported its first losses since the 1990s.[22] In 2016, Phibro was wound down and sold.[23]

Research in Shale Oil[edit]

Starting in 1972, Occidental Oil Shale, Inc., a former subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, began research on a shale oil extraction process.[24]

The company conducted the first modified in situ oil shale experiment in 1972 at Logan Wash, Colorado.[24] The process used explosives to create underground chambers (retorts) of fractured oil shale. About 20% was mined out after which blasting was used to fracture oil shale. The commercial-sized retort covered 333 by 166 feet (101 by 51 m) area and had height of 400 feet (120 m). Oil shale was then ignited on the top by external fuel, and air or steam was injected to control the process. As a result, combustion moved from the top to the bottom of retort.[25]

During the process four major zones could be identified. In the pre-heat zone air contacted processed hot shale (spent shale) which pre-heated air. In the combustion zone, oxygen in air was used to burn carbon residue in the spent shale. Below this zone, heated gas caused retorting process converting kerogen in oil shale to oil shale gas and shale oil vapors. In the final zone oil and gas were cooled and collected through separation sump and collecting well.[24][25] All together, six retorts have been burned at the site.[24]

Historical financial performance[edit]

As of December 31, 2015, Occidental was one of the largest U.S. oil and gas companies based on market capitalization, with a market capitalization of approximately $51 billion.[3]

Occidental Petroleum Financial Performance
Income before
income taxes
2005 $32.121[31] $14.153[31] $6.808[31]
2006 $41.013[32] $17.175[31] $7.830[31]
2007 $63.573[32] $18.323[32] $8.578[33]
2008 $48.607[32] $23.713[32] $11.371[33]
2009 $66.050[32] $14.814[32] $4.669[33]
2010 $79.735[32] $19.045[32] $7.359[32]
2011 $75.992[29] $20.001[29] $10.459[28]
2012 $61.710[29] $20.100[29] $7.390[28]
2013 $75.699[29] $20.170[29] $7.751[29]
2014 $62.119[29] $19.312[29] $1.224[28]
2015 $51.632[29] $12.480[29] ($9.684)[28]

Former areas of operation[edit]


Occidental formerly owned 100% of California Resources Corporation,[34] the largest producer of oil and natural gas on a gross-operated barrels of oil equivalent basis in California.[35] Occidental distributed 80.5% of its shares in California Resources Corporation to Occidental shareholders in December 2014[34] and distributed its remaining stake to shareholders in March 2016.[3]

Williston Basin, North Dakota[edit]

In 2010, Oxy acquired shale oil properties in the Williston Basin in North Dakota for $1.4 billion.[36] These assets, as well as other assets acquired by Oxy in the Williston Basin, were sold in 2015 for $600 million.[37]


In 2011, Occidental sold its oil and gas operations in Argentina to Sinopec, a subsidiary of China Petrochemical Corporation. These assets included proven and probable reserves of 393 million 393 million barrels of oil equivalent (2.40×109 GJ).[38]


Occidental formerly operated in block 15 of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador. The government of Ecuador seized the company's interest in 2006, and in 2016, the government agreed to pay USD$980 million in restitution to Occidental for the seizure, down from the original award of USD$1.77 billion. The agreement was based on a 2012 arbitration award from the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).[39]


In 2013, Oxychem sold its investment in Unipar Carbocloro for R$550 million.[40]


The company's only North African operation was in Libya. In 2005, Occidental and partner Liwa won eight out of 15 exploration spots on the EPSA-4 auction, making both companies among the first to enter the Libyan market since the United States lifted its embargo on Libya.[41] The company later began enacting an exit strategy to divest assets in the country in 2016.[41]

United Kingdom[edit]

Planning permission was granted in 1971 for Occidental Petroleum to develop a site on Canvey Island Essex for the construction of a conventional distillation oil refinery (Occidental Refineries Ltd.). Access roads, some of the tank farm, a 1.5 km jetty on the River Thames and a 450-foot (140 m) concrete chimney were built. Early in 1975 Occidental stopped work following economic studies which showed the refinery, in the context of the OPEC price rises, was unlikely to be profitable. In 1980 Occidental noted that a 60,000 barrel per day residue upgrading refinery would be viable.[42] However, no further work on the site was undertaken, and the site remained derelict, the tanks and the chimney were subsequently demolished. Only some concrete foundations and the river jetty remain extant.[43][44]

Current operations[edit]

Oil and gas[edit]

Occidental's oil and gas operations are concentrated in three geographic areas: the United States, Latin America, and the Middle East.[4]

As of December 31, 2016, Occidental had 2.406 billion barrels of oil equivalent (1.472×1010 GJ) of oil equivalent net proved reserves, of which 56% was petroleum, 17% was natural gas liquids, and 27% was natural gas.[3]

In 2016, the company had production of 630 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (3,900,000 GJ) per day.[3]

United States[edit]

In 2016, Occidental's United States operations produced 302 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (1,850,000 GJ) per day, representing 48% of the company's worldwide production.[3] This includes approximately 269 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (1,650,000 GJ) barrels of oil equivalent per day in the Permian Basin, where Occidental is the largest operator and oil producer, and 33 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (200,000 GJ) per day of production in its mid-continent operations in Colorado and South Texas.[3] The 269,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in the Permian Basin includes 124,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from "unconventional" resources through Permian Resources and 145,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day using a technique called enhanced oil recovery (EOR).[3] EOR technology used in the Permian includes water flooding and carbon dioxide flooding, whereby carbon dioxide is injected into underground formations to extract the oil and gas.[3]

Middle East[edit]

Occidental's oil and gas operations in the Middle East are in Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The region produced 294 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (1,800,000 GJ) per day, representing approximately 46% of 2016 total worldwide production.[3][45] The region also held 28% of the company's proved reserves in 2016.[3]

Occidental is the largest independent oil producer in Oman.[46] In Qatar, Occidental is the second-largest oil producer offshore[47] and is a partial owner in the Dolphin natural gas project, which delivers gas to Oman and the United Arab Emirates.[47] In early 2011, Occidental partnered with Abu Dhabi's state oil company in developing the Shah Field, one of the largest natural gas fields in the Middle East,[48] through a joint venture known as Al Hosn Gas. Al Hosn Gas became operational in 2015.[49]

Latin America[edit]

In Latin America, which accounted for 5% of total production in 2016, Occidental operates in Bolivia and Colombia.[3][50][51] Occidental's share of production from its Latin America assets was approximately 34 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (210,000 GJ) per day in 2016, which included 33 thousand barrels of oil equivalent (200,000 GJ) per day from Colombia.[3]

In Colombia, Occidental and Ecopetrol, the state-owned oil company, discovered the giant Caño Limón oilfield in 1983. It proved to be the largest discovery in Colombia's oil history and helped return the country to oil-exporter status.[52]


Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem), a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, based in Dallas, is a leading chemical manufacturer.[53] Among its interests are basic chemicals, vinyls and performance chemical products.[3] Oxy's wholly owned chemical subsidiaries include Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem), OxyVinyls, and INDSPEC Chemical Corporation.[54] OxyChem manufactures polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins, chlorine and caustic soda used in plastics, pharmaceuticals and water treatment chemicals. Other products manufactured by the company include caustic potash, chlorinated organics, sodium silicates, chlorinated isocyanurates and calcium chloride. OxyChem has manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Chile.[54]

In a joint venture with Church & Dwight, OxyChem owns Armand Products Company, which sells potassium carbonate and potassium bicarbonate.[55] In October 2013, OxyChem and Mexichem announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture, Ingleside Ethylene LLC, to build a 1.2-billion-pound per year capacity ethylene cracker at the OxyChem plant in Ingleside, Texas, along with pipelines and storage at Markham, Texas. Construction is expected to be completed and the facility to be operational in 2017.[56]



Occidental Petroleum began operations in Libya in 1965 and operated there until U.S. sanctions were imposed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan and was one of the first American company to resume negotiations in Libya after U.S. sanctions were lifted in 2004.[57] In 2008, Occidental Petroleum, along with five other oil companies, was criticized for lobbying to exempt Libya from a law written by U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to assist American terror victims in seizing assets of countries found culpable in terror attacks, such as the Libyan bombing of the Pan Am flight in Lockerbie in 1988.[58] In 2008, the company hired Hogan & Hartson, a Washington, D.C., law firm as its lobbyist.[59] In early 2011, Oxy ceased exploration activities and production operations due to the growing civil unrest in the country and U.S. sanctions. In June 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requested information from Occidental, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips related to the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), an investment firm controlled by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.[60] United Kingdom prosecutors, in cooperation with the SEC, have undertaken similar investigations of multiple oil companies during this same period to determine if there were any violations of international bribery laws.[61] The Libyan Investment Authority's investments were frozen by the U.S. government in early 2011 following the Gaddafi regime's attacks on Libyan civilians.[60] The company later began leaving Libya.[6]

Environmental record[edit]

Oxy has been noted as a leader in using carbon dioxide (CO2) flood technology,[62] or carbon sequestration for enhanced oil recovery, which is a more environmental-friendly method of oil extraction because it could stall the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by instead injecting it into the ground.[63]

In 2008, Occidental was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as Production Partner of the Year and in 2009 for Continuing Excellence (5 Years).[64] Occidental is a member of the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). The WHC has certified the habitat conservation and education programs[65][66][67] at eight of the company's sites.[68]

Occidental and Glenn Springs Holdings, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum, are participants in a large reclamation project in the southeastern United States at Copper Basin. Occidental acquired the land in 1982, not engaging in mining activities at Copper Basin, including the North Potato Creek Watershed,[69] which were used to mine copper and sulfur dating back to the 1800s. In 2001, Occidental, Glenn Springs Holdings federal and local agencies came to an agreement to clean up Copper Basin and restore the water quality of its creeks.[69]

In 2013, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst identified Occidental Petroleum as the 19th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, with about 1.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals released annually into the air.[70]

Love Canal[edit]

An abandoned parking lot near Love Canal

In 1942, Hooker Chemical and Plastics began disposing chemical waste in the Love Canal region. Other companies, as well as the military, had used it as a chemical disposal site since the 1920s. In 1947, Hooker Chemicals became the owner and the sole user of the land. In 1952, the site was filled to capacity and closed off. Later in the 1950s, the local school board requested Hooker, after threatening to resort to eminent domain, sell the land. The school board intended to build a school on an unused area of the dump. Hooker Chemical leased the land to school board in 1953.[71]

A school was built on the site, and later a middle-class residential district was built upon the land adjacent to the site. The construction broke through the 4-foot (1.2 m) clay seal containing the waste. In 1968, Hooker Chemical was purchased by Occidental Petroleum. In 1978, residents became concerned about unusual health issues in the Love Canal region, including high rates of cancer and birth defects. This subsequently became a national news story, and in 1980, president Jimmy Carter declared a federal emergency in the area. Residents were eventually relocated, and Occidental paid $129 million in restitution.[72]

Oleum spil[edit]

On October 11, 2008, an accidental spill of oleum, a chemical similar to sulfuric acid, occurred at INDSPEC's facility in Petrolia, Pennsylvania. The accident caused contamination of the ventilation system and a cloud of toxic gas in the Petrolia sky. 2,500 residents of the area were asked to evacuate for the day.[73]


Occidental met with substantial resistance from 1992 to 2001 when it tried to drill for oil in the territory of the U'wa people in northeast Colombia. The locals were concerned about environmental damage and feared that development would bring strangers and invite violence to the region. There also were tribal beliefs that oil is the "blood of the earth" and should not be removed. They believed that oil infrastructure would be a target for violent leftist guerillas in the country. After years of shareholder resolutions, legal battles, protests, and a failed test well, the company abandoned the project.[74] Repsol YPF took over the project and continues to work on it.

Caño Limón[edit]

On December 13, 1998, seventeen civilians, including 7 children, were killed when the Colombian Air Force (CAF) dropped a cluster bomb in the hamlet of Santo Domingo, Colombia, after AirScan, Occidental's security contractor, from a private aircraft, incorrectly identified it as a hostile guerrilla target. Groups such as FARC and the National Liberation Army were active in the area. Three employees of AirScan were flying the Skymaster plane from which they provided the Colombian military with the coordinates to drop the bombs. The operation had been planned by the CAF and AirScan at Occidental's complex in Caño Limón.[75] A lawsuit was attempted in April 2003 against Occidental by Luis Alberto Galvis Mujica, a witness and survivor of the accident.[76] Plaintiffs claims were dismissed by the trial court.[77][78] The dismissal was appealed to 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent the case back to the trial court to resolve a single issue.[79] The trial court declined to reconsider the case, thereby reinstating the dismissal. The case is once again on appeal.[80]

Maynas Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum[edit]

On May 10, 2007, a group of 25 indigenous Achuar Peruvians filed suit against Occidental, demanding clean-up and reparations for environmental damages allegedly caused by Occidental over 30 years. The plaintiffs claimed that the company violated the industry standards and the environmental regulations by dumping a total of 9 billion barrels (1.4×10^9 m3) of toxic oil by-products in watersheds used by the Achuar people to fish, drink, and bathe. This environmental damage was alleged to have caused premature deaths and birth defects.[81] A 2006 study by Peru's health ministry tested 199 people in seven affected communities, and found that all but two had levels of cadmium in their blood above safe levels.[81]

The Achuar were represented by EarthRights International and the law firm Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP.[82]

On March 3, 2010, EarthRights International (ERI) argued to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the landmark environmental and public health case brought by indigenous Peruvian Achuar and the U.S. NGO Amazon Watch against Los Angeles-based oil giant Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), Maynas Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum, should be litigated in Los Angeles, where Oxy is headquartered.[83]

The appeals court overturned the prior decision and in 2013, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the company’s arguments against a domestic trial.[81]

In March 2015, Occidental Petroleum made an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed sum. The funds will be used for health, education and nutrition projects in five Achuar communities (Antioquía, José Olaya, Nueva Jerusalén, Pampa Hermosa and Saukí) in the Corrientes river basin in Peru’s northern Amazon.[81]

Political record[edit]


Occidental has disclosed its contributions to political action committees, lobbyists, and industry trade groups on its website.[84]

In 2005, Occidental was among 53 entities which contributed the maximum of $250,000 to the second inauguration of President George W. Bush.[85][86][87]

Occidental also donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation.[88]

Front Group Creation[edit]

In 2016, California Resources Corp. created the group Powering California, which teamed up with the Los Angeles Times' “content solutions” team to promote oil-industry messaging.[89] The Los Angeles Times’ "content solutions" department is wholly independent from its reporting and editorial staff.[89]

In 2016, as the California legislature considered extending climate policies, Powering California released a series of videos praising oil and attacking clean energy sources. One of the videos [1] asserts that “renewable energy can’t replace oil,” [2] claims wind energy is “expensive,” and declares that “oil and natural gas are woven into the fabric of America.” Another video features interviews with paid actors touting California’s oil and gas industry.[89]

Gore family[edit]

Occidental's coal interests were represented for many years by attorney and former U.S. Senator Albert Gore, Sr., among others. Gore, who had a long-time close friendship with Hammer, became the head of the subsidiary Island Creek Coal Company, upon his election loss in the Senate. Much of Occidental's coal and phosphate production was in Tennessee, the state Gore represented in the Senate, and Gore owned shares in the company. Former Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. received much criticism from environmentalists, when the shares passed to the estate after the death of Albert Gore Sr., and Albert Gore Jr. was a son and the executor of the estate.[90][91] Albert Gore Jr. did not exercise control over the shares, which were eventually sold when the estate closed.[92][93] Island Creek Coal was sold to Consol Energy in 1993.[94]

In 1998, the U.S. government sold the Elk Hills Oil Field to Occidental for $3.65 billion. According to the government, the reserve was no longer strategically necessary, and the reserve was sold to reduce the national debt and the size of the government. To ensure competition, the field was sold in segments and offered to multiple bidders.[95] Critics cited Vice President Al Gore's involvement with the company as evidence of graft.[90]

Safety record[edit]

OxyChem has achieved Star Status under OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs as being among the safest work sites in the U.S.[96]

Piper Alpha[edit]

On July 6, 1988 Occidental's Piper Alpha offshore production platform in the UK North Sea was destroyed when an out of service gas condensate pump was started with its pressure safety valve removed. The subsequent gas leak, explosion and fire resulted in the deaths of 167 workers in what remains the world's deadliest offshore disaster.


In 1984, David Murdock owned about 5% of the company's shares. When Murdock called on the management to take measures to increase the share price, it chose to pay greenmail to buy back shares from him at $40.10, while the market price was $28.75.[97]


  • Occidental Oil & Gas Corporation
  • Occidental Chemical Corporation (OxyChem)

See also[edit]


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