Occidental Petroleum in Talks to Buy CrownRock, WSJ Reports

Occidental Petroleum Corp. is in talks to buy shale driller CrownRock LP, according to the Wall Street Journal, as the consolidation wave in North America’s most prolific oil field gathers momentum.

A deal for CrownRock could be valued above $10 billion including debt and could come together soon, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Occidental and CrownRock did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of usual business hours.

CrownRock is one of the larger closely held oil and gas producers in the Permian Basin, North America’s biggest source of crude. Output from that region of West Texas and New Mexico has doubled in just six years to the point where it yields more oil on a daily basis than OPEC heavyweight Iraq.

If the purchase is successful, it would augment a portfolio Occidental had already expanded with the $38 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in 2019. That deal was aided by an investment by Occidental’s biggest shareholder: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The pursuit of CrownRock is also the latest twist in a flurry of recent deal activity in the sector as oil executives, flush with cash from the post-pandemic run-up in oil prices, buy up rivals to secure new places to drill. It comes on the heels of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s roughly $60 billion bid for Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Chevron Corp.’s $53 billion takeover of Hess Corp.

Bloomberg News reported last month that CrownRock was up for sale and could fetch around $8 billion. Devon Energy Corp. was among companies interested in CrownRock, according to people familiar with the matter. ConocoPhillips was also considering a bid, Reuters reported.

CrownRock is run by Tim Dunn, an influential Republican donor who has spent more than $20 million over the past decade or so to support conservative politicians. 

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