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Occidental Petroleum Company
HeadquartersDelaware, United States
Key peopleWilliam E. Albrecht (President, Oxy Oil and Gas, USA); Todd A. Stevens (Vice President, Oxy Oil and Gas, California Operations)
RevenueIn 2007, USD 18,784,000,000
Net incomeIn 2007, USD 5,400,000,000
Total assetsIn 2007, USD 36,519,000,000

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy) is an international oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, Middle East/North Africa and Latin America. Oxy is the fourth largest U.S. oil and gas company, based on equity market capitalization. Oxy is the largest oil producer in Texas, the largest gas producer in California, and has additional operations in Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Oxy has assets in Libya, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen and is a partner in supplying natural gas from Qatar to markets in the United Arab Emirates. Oxy has operations and assets in Colombia and Argentina.

Company History

Oxy began in California in the 1920s as a small oil and gas company. In 1961, Oxy made its first major discovery, drilling into previously unexplored depths near the Sacramento Basin in northern California and discovered the state’s second largest dry gas field at Lathrop. Over the next ten years, Oxy expanded its worldwide operation to the Middle East and South America. In 1968, Oxy entered into the chemical business with the acquisition of Hooker Chemicals, today known as Oxy Chemical Corporation (OxyChem), and is the leading chemical manufacturer with interests in basic chemicals, vinyls and performance chemical products. Beginning in 1997, Oxy completed a series of acquisitions, sales and asset swaps to become a more highly focused oil and gas company with large, long-lived, high margin oil and gas assets concentrated in the United States, Middle East and Latin America. Oxy transformed Colombia from oil importer to exporter with the 1983 discovery of the billion-plus barrel Caño Limón oil field located in the Llanos Basin in the northeastern part of the country. In 2006, this oil field averaged 28,000 BOE per day. In 2005, Ecopetrol approved development of the Caricare field, an exploration discovery adjacent to the Caño Limón field, in which Oxy has a 35 percent working interest. That same year, Oxy signed an agreement with Ecopetrol for an EOR project in the La Cira-Infantas field in central Colombia. In December 2006, Oxy completed the second pilot phase and agreed to enter a third and commercial phase with Ecopetrol. [1]

Oxy is California’s largest natural gas producer and the state's largest oil and gas producer on a gross-operated barrels of oil equivalent basis, which has increased with the use of hydraulic fracturing. On its website, Oxy states that the company "is applying the expertise gained from exploring and producing different shale zones at Elk Hills to other California assets, including properties in the Los Angeles, Ventura and San Joaquin basins. More than one-fourth of Oxy’s California production currently is from shales."[1]

Historical Financial Information

Business Strategy

Political and Public Influence

The company's CEO, Vicki Hollub, served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board under the Trump Administration.[2]

Vicki Hollub, to the right of former U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, photographed as part of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

Bravo Dome

Bravo Dome is a 99% pure natural carbon source field located in northeastern New Mexico, operated primarily by Occidental. The carbon produced there is crucial for oil drilling as an injectant for CO2 enhanced oil recovery in Texas' Permian Basin and the Postle Oil Field in Oklahoma, both of which are fields in which CO2 EOR for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage takes place. It is one of the five major producing Natural CO2 Source Fields in the United States and is 1.17 million acres in size, as well as 8% federal land and 27% state land.[3]

Bravo CO2 Pipeline from the Bravo Dome to the Permian Basin. Credit: PipelineSafety.Info

The Bravo Dome carbon is sent via the 218-mile Bravo Pipeline to Texas' Permian Basin[4] and via the 120-mile Transpetco/Bravo Pipeline to the Postle Oil Field located near Guymon, Oklahoma on the state's panhandle.[5][6] From there, the produced carbon is injected under the ground to free up an additional 8-20% of oil. CO2 EOR is also sometimes called "carbon flooding" or "tertiary recovery."[7]

Transpetco CO2 Pipeline from the Bravo Dome to the Postle Oil Field. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

Natural carbon dioxide is currently the source of over 80% of the CO2 for CO2 EOR in the United States[8] and CO2 EOR currently is the final carbon sink for nine of the ten biggest U.S.-based Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects currently commercially operational.[9]

Traditionally known as CCS, CO2 EOR is a central component of a rebranding effort which began in 2012 known as CCUS, or carbon capture utilization and storage. The "U" in CCUS, in this case, is using carbon to drill for more oil.[10]According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Energy study, 97% of the industrial marketed carbon is used for CO2 EOR.[11]

A 2020 study concluded that CO2 enhanced oil recovery using CO2 source fields like the Jackson Dome, McElmo Dome, Bravo Dome, Sheep Mountain, and Doe Canyon “cannot contribute to reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.”[12]

Multiple studies have also called into question the climate benefits of CO2 EOR production even with anthropogenic carbon, pointing to the process as a net-positive greenhouse gas emitting process.[13]


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Field Details

  • Start Year: 1980[14]
  • Operators: Occidental[15] (Kinder Morgan Energy Partners also a non-producing leaseholder)[16]
  • Location: Union County, Quay County, and Harding County New Mexico, United States
  • Proved reserves: 4.6 TCF[17] 28 active wells.
  • Production: 405 MMSCFD/day[18]
  • Active Production Wells: 627
  • Status: Operating

Comparison to Oil, Gas Drilling

An industry engineer told the outlet Capital & Main that CO2 drilling is akin to drilling for oil and gas, at its core.

“It’s really the same tools, the same equipment, the same calculation going on. It’s just using different types of numbers,” the engineer stated. “But you find a CO2 source field, which obviously can be several thousand feet underground, and you move a drilling rig in and you drill for it.”[19]

Sheep Mountain

Sheep Mountain is a 96.8% pure natural carbon source field[20] located in south-central Colorado in Huerfano County and operated by Occidental.

Sheep Mountain CO2 field. Credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management

that was unitized in 1976.[21]

Field Details

  • Start Year: 1983[22]
  • Operator: Occidental
  • Location: Huerfano County, Colorado
  • Production: 5.06 million MCF[23]
  • Active Production Wells: 26[24]
  • Status: Operating

1982 CO2 Release

In 1982, Sheep Mountain Unit was the source of one of the largest CO2 leakages and the largest recorded industrial release of the chemical compound in human history.[25]

According to a 1985 paper written by engineers employed by ARCO, who operated the field at the time of the release, during the week-long period that the CO2 well on site spewed carbon, it did so in a formation that was “softball-sized" and went "hundreds of feet into the air.”[26] A 2007 science paper discussing the well blowout further detailed that “on one of the first mornings of the blowout period[,] a car engine stopped when being driven through a low spot on the way to the drillsite.” It took an additional nearly two weeks to fully contain the massive leak.[27]

Worried about the possibility of future mass CO2 leakage events, residents formed a group called Huerfano Valley Citizens Alliance to act as a community industry watchdog.[28]

CO2 enhanced oil recovery

Occidental is the top producer of CO2 EOR from the Permian and in the United States at large. It sources much of the carbon it uses to do CO2 EOR from the Bravo Dome, one of the several Natural CO2 Source Fields which exist in the United States that the company operates, sent via the Bravo Pipeline.[29]

In 2016, Occidental purchased over 35,000 acres in Texas’ Permian Basin, worth $2 billion. The aim: boost CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2 EOR). In 2017, Occidental further purchased $600 million worth of CO2 EOR assets from Hess Corporation, boosting its dominant position in this space.[30]

The company says its “social license to operate,” climate activist lingo, is key to its future and CO2 EOR will be a key part of that future.

CEO Vicki Hollub said in a May 2019 investor presentation that “the social license to operate is one box we check that really nobody else can check today." Hollub continued "that box is our ability to lead our industry into a low carbon environment," owing itself to the fact that "we're the world's largest handler of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery."[31]

As it stands, Occidental has 31 CO2 EOR fields in the Permian, as of 2017. That accounts for one-third of all U.S. CO2 EOR production.[32]

”Occidental operates more carbon dioxide (CO2) floods than any other CO2 flood operator,” the company says on its website. “W​e inject more than 2.6 billion cubic feet of CO2 into oil reservoirs in the Permian, making Occidental the largest injector of CO2 for EOR in the Permian Basin, and among the largest globally.”[33]

In 2010, the company said it foresees 1-3 billion barrels more of oil production coming from Permian CO2 EOR production.[34]

Occidental’s presence in the field is largely a by-product of the 2000 acquisition of Altura, a joint venture at the time co-owned by Shell and BP, for $3.6 billion.[35][36]

For Occidental, the irony is not lost in the proposal to do more oil drilling in the name of a climate solution.

“We have a lot of running room to grow in terms of EOR projects if [Occidental] could just get more CO2,” Cedric Burgher, the company’s CFO and senior vice president, said during the company’s fourth-quarter 2018 investor presentation. “It’s kind of the irony in today’s world where most people want to eliminate CO2 emissions, and we just can’t get enough CO2 commercially to our locations. And it’s an area we’re focused on.”[37]

The company has major ambitions in the CO2 EOR sector.

"We are trying to be very conservative, but certainly we believe that we can improve from 10-11 percent to 17-18 percent," Hollub told Bloomberg in 2019. "It’s a lot. When you consider the scale of the Permian basin, to do that will be amazing."[38]

Occidental told California regulators that 0.3 percent of the carbon used at its CO2 EOR field in Denver City, Texas escaped during a 25-year period, while the rest stayed trapped.[39]

Sequestering vs. Recycling

During the CO2 EOR process, CO2 is not merely stored underground immediately. Instead, it is recycled as part of what the Global CCS Institute describes as a "closed loop," which "reduces the need to purchase additional CO2."[40]

A closed-loop CO2 EOR system, exhibited in a 2013 NETL report.

A 1976 study commissioned by the Federal Energy Administration pointed out that, from the onset, CO2 EOR would not be economically feasible for the oil industry without recycling technology. The study explained the industry will necessitate "major improvements in...recycling...before the full potential of this recovery tech­nique can be realized."[41]

As early as 1981, a petroleum engineering coordinator for Shell told colleagues at the Society for Petroleum Engineers that CO2 for CO2 enhanced oil recovery should be recycled because it "is a very valuable commodity" and "it does involve large amounts for oil recovery."[42]

In 1991, a production supervisor at Shell at the Jackson Dome further explained, "We're recycling everything we produce. Eventually the flood will be mature enough that all we'll be doing is recycling. We won't have to bring any more down from Jackson Dome."[43]

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue also explained the CO2 EOR process as one centering around recycling in a legal ruling pertaining to disputes over royalty payments at the Bravo Dome. "At the surface, the CO2 is separated from the oil," explains the filing. "The oil is sold and the CO2 reused again in the EOR reservoir. This means the CO2 is part of a continual process and is not sold."[44]

In a 2018 presentation, Denbury further concluded that by 15 years into a CO2 EOR operation, 20% of its CO2 will be recycled. By 20 years, that number goes up to 50%. By 25 years, that number goes up to 70% and by 30 years, that number goes up to 80% recycled.[45]

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory put it more simply in a 2019 paper on CO2 EOR, writing, "the objective of CO2 EOR operations is not to store CO2, but to maximize oil production. However, some of the injected CO2 ultimately does get stored in the reservoir as part of the process.[46]

“The need for the field to purchase new CO2 is gradually reduced over time,” further explains a 2019 paper published by the U.S. Department of Energy. “As a result, a greater percentage of the CO2 injected is from production, separation, and recycling versus newly-purchased CO2.” That paper further explained that “approximately half has been recovered and recycled” and more broadly “CO2 EOR operators try to maximize oil and gas production and minimize the amount of CO2 left in the reservoir.”[47]

A 2010 paper by the National Energy Technology Laboratory also explains the exact money saved by doing the recycling process, writing that "Because of the cost of naturally sourced CO2—roughly $10-15 per metric ton—a CO2 flood operator seeks to recycle as much as possible to minimize future purchases of the gas."[48]

Corporate Accountability


Human Rights

Tomas Maynas Carijano et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Corporation
This document discusses a lawsuit on behalf of 25 indigenous Achuar plaintiffs from the Peruvian Amazon against Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy). The claim alleges harm caused by Oxy over a 30 year period in the Corrientes River Basin during which Oxy contaminated the river and the lands of the indigenous Achuar communities, causing death, poisoning and destruction of way of life. [49] [50] [51] [52]

Esther Mamallacta Shiguago et al. v. Occidental Petroleum Co., Occidental Exploration and Production Co.
In 2006, a case was filed against Occidental for using military and paramilitary death squads to guard its pipeline in Ecuador. The plaintiffs in this case are victims of murder and torture. [2]

Blood Proves Thicker than Oil
The 7,500 U’wa people, aided by Colombian social movements, environmental organizations (including Friends of the Earth Colombia) and campaign groups around the world have recently won an important victory in their decade-long campaign to stop the exploitation of their lands by Occidental Petroleum. [53]

Occidental Adopts Human Rights Policy
The policy specifically provides for social risk assessments prior to the onset of operations in locations outside the United States; the inclusion of human rights provisions in foreign contracts; human rights training programs for employees and security contractors; and background checks on security personnel. [54]

To What Extent does a Corporate-State Consensus Undermine Human Rights? Oil Extraction in Arauca: Colombia, the United States and Occidental Petroleum
This is a dissertation submitted for Mc in Development Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. It discusses the national context including the struggles over territorial control and the consolidation of the elite. It also addresses the international context and the impact of the United States and Occidental Petroleum on human rights violations. [55]

Occidental invites Amnesty to Colombian Facility(May 19, 2004)
Occidental stated that it would be open for Amnesty to investigate its role following an Amnesty report on human rights violations that named Occidental in association with Colombian security forces used to defend company facilities as guerrilla war rages on the Arauca part of the country. [3]

Riding Shotgun on a Pipeline(May 16, 2004)
The U.S. and Colombia launched an extraordinary military operation that sent thousands of troops into Arauca to combat rebel attacks on Occidental’s pipeline. [4]

Galvis Mujica v. Occidental Petroleum
A lawsuit by Galvis Mujica that alleges that Occidental Petroleum had a role in the bombing of the village of Santo Domingo that killed 17 residents and wounded many others. The court dismissed the case in 2005, claiming that the Alien Tort Statute claims were political questions that should not be considered by the court system.[5] [6]

Protecting the Pipeline: The U.S. Military Mission Expands [7]

A Laboratory of War: Repression and Violence in Arauca
This document discusses Occidental’s human rights violations, including the XVIII Brigade which is reportedly funded by Oxy that has collided with paramilitary forces and the Santo Domingo killings. [8]

Occidental Pipeline in Colombia Strikes it Rich in Washington
The Occidental pipeline is often attacked by guerrilla groups, more than 1000 times since its 1986 construction. It has spilled more than 2.9 million barrels of crude oil (more than 11 times the amount spilled by Exxon Valdez) and has polluted more than 1,625 miles of river. [9]

Special Issues and Campaigns: World Report 1999
Human Rights Watch claims that Occidental along with Ecopetrol and Royal Dutch/Shell, took no action to address reports of extrajudicial executions and a massacre committed by the state forces assigned to protect the consortium’s facilities. The companies’ response was that human rights violations were the responsibility of governments, and they did not announce any programs to ensure that their security providers do not commit human rights violations. [10]

Human Rights Watch World Report 1998
Arauca province was the site of the Occidental Petroleum, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Ecopetrol consortium's Caño Limón-Covenas oil fields and pipeline. By putting the companies in a new relationship to the military, the contracts had raised serious questions. The direct contracts signed with the Ministry of Defense inappropriately tightened the companies' relations with an abusive military and compounded the fundamental problem: that the companies relied on that abusive military institution for security and thereby assumed a responsibility to take concrete, programmatic measures to prevent violations and to confront those that may arise. The companies have taken very little action in regarding human rights. [11]


Oxy describes their environmental protection principles as requiring constant focus on waste reduction and resource conservation. Oxy also tracks energy efficiency and it has been shown that efforts focused on improving energy efficiency have yielded an 8 percent improvement since 1996. Energy use per pound of production in OxyChem has decreased more than 40 percent since 1995. [12]

Diesel in Fracking

From 2010 to July 2014 Occidental drillers in the reported using 739.96 gallons of diesel injected into one well in the U.S. The Environmental Integrity Project extensively researched diesel in fracking. The environmental research organization argues that diesel use in fracking is widely under reported.

The Environmental Integrity Project 2014 study "Fracking Beyond The Law, Despite Industry Denials Investigation Reveals Continued Use of Diesel Fuels in Hydraulic Fracturing," found that hydraulic fracturing with diesel fuel can pose a risk to drinking water and human health because diesel contains benzene, toluene, xylene, and other chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems. The Environmental Integrity Project identified numerous fracking fluids with high amounts of diesel, including additives, friction reducers, emulsifiers, solvents sold by Halliburton.[56]

Consumer Protection and Product Safety

Anti-Trust and Tax Practices

Social Responsibility Initiatives

Oxy describes their social responsibility initiatives as working closely with neighboring communities to bring economic and social advantages and foster self-sufficiency. Internationally Oxy has built schools, medical clinics, and day-care centers in remote rural areas near their operations. Oxy also provides teachers and agricultural training and other programs to enhance sustainable development. [13]
Oxy has also helped with social responsibility initiatives in Colombia, by helping to build 34 elementary schools in the state of Arauca and has implemented an innovative and successful adult education program called A Crecer (Let’s Grow). A Crecer has more than 800 students with 80 trained tutors in 15 locations. To complete the literacy program, the students must complete 5 grades, a class project and 800 hours of extracurricular work. It takes about three months to complete one grade, each of which is organized into four modules, math, communication, community and environment. The adults attend classes on the weekends in the schools that were built were for the children of Arauca. [14]
Oxy has also helped bring medical care and health education to the rural communities surrounding the Caño Limón oil field. Oxy helped build, equip and staff 11 medical facilities which provide emergency medical treatment and preventative care. In 2004, the medical center treated an average of 380 patients per month. [15]



Accessed May 2012:[58]

Former Board Members

Contact Information

Corporate Headquarters/ Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation
10889 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310) 208-8800

Occidental Chemical Corporation
Occidental Tower
5005 LBJ Freeway
Dallas, TX 75244
Tel: (972) 404-3800

URL: http://www.oxy.com

Articles and Resources

Related GEM.wiki articles

External Resources

External Articles

EarthRights International, Racimos de Ungurahui & Amazon Watch, "A Legacy of Harm: Occidental Petroleum in Indigeneous Territory in the Peruvian Amazon", April 2007.


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