OCCIDENTAL SETS MILLIONS FOR OIL, GAS PROJECTS

OCCIDENTAL SETS MILLIONS FOR OIL, GAS PROJECTS

Occidental Petroleum Corp. plans to spend $900 million in capital during 1994 to focus on oil and gas exploration and production, fund incremental expansion and debottlenecking projects in chemicals, and pursue growth opportunities in the unregulated portion of the natural-gas transportation market.

Approximately 65 percent of the capital is earmarked for oil and gas.Speaking to financial analysts in New York last week, Occidental's chairman, president and chief executive, Ray R. Irani, said, "International oil and gas remains Occidental's primary vehicle for growth."

He said the company's strategy is to minimize risk by exploring primarily in basins with known oil and gas deposits and targeting structures with potential reserves that are large enough to make a substantial contribution to earnings. "We are sticking with this strategy because it works."

During 1993, Occidental announced several exploration successes, including discoveries in Malaysia, the Russian republic of Komi and, most recently, northwestern Oman.

In addition, new exploration blocks were acquired in Malaysia and Gabon, production started in Ecuador and Yemen, and production was greatly increased at an enhanced oil-recovery project in Russia.

Mr. Irani also said Occidental expects to continue to receive benefits from its ongoing cost-reduction efforts.

"These savings are not the result of one-time events," Mr. Irani said.

"They reflect basic changes in the way we operate, and they will continue to have a positive effect on our bottom line in the future."

During 1993, cost-reduction programs will have saved the company approximately $150 million, with the lion's share coming from Occidental's chemical division.

Despite a $53 million erosion in profit margins through the end of September, Chemical Division earnings rose by $64 million for the first nine months of the year.

"This dramatic improvement, which has been accomplished by lowering fixed costs and improving volumes, has occurred at the bottom of the industry's business cycle," Mr. Irani said. "Our integration strategy, together with our aggressive cost-reduction program, gives us tremendous upside in a strong economy."