Occidental Petroleum’s profits rise as Exxon Mobil’s and Shell’s fall

Occidental Petroleum reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter profits rose.
(Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

Occidental Petroleum reported higher profits in the fourth quarter as the oil and gas producer seeks to revamp its business after a boardroom shakeup last year.

The Los Angeles company reported profits of $1.6 billion, or $2.04 a share, in the quarter that ended Dec. 31. That is up from $336 million, or 42 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Occidental announced last year plans to sell off some stakes in Middle East and North Africa oil fields along with other assets and instead focus on operations closer to home. That strategic shift was an effort to boost profitability and bolster its stock, which has lagged behind others in the industry.


Part of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings came from selling a portion of its investment in the general partner of the Plains All-American Pipeline, which netted an after-tax gain of $665 million.

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Chief Executive Stephen Chazen said Occidental increased efficiency by reducing drilling costs and operating expenses last year.

In 2014, the company plans to continue investing in oil projects in California and the Permian basin along with assets in Oman and Qatar, Chazen said in a Thursday call with analysts.

Shareholders ousted longtime Chairman Ray Irani last year during a boardroom-spat-turned-public when the board announced it was seeking a successor to Chazen. Many investors ended up siding with Chazen and voted Irani out after nearly three decades as a company director.

Occidental fared better than oil giants Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, both of which reported lower earnings on Thursday as a result of higher expenses, lower production and falling oil prices.

Exxon Mobil reported its fourth-quarter profits dropped 16% to $8.35 billion. Shell said its profits for the quarter fell 48% to $2.9 billion.

In response, Shell said it would curb capital investment and also sell off some oil and gas fields. Exxon plans to start numerous oil and gas projects over the next two years.


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