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Occidental Petroleum sees 2019 capex range of $4.4 billion-$5.3 billion

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(Reuters) – U.S. oil and gas producer Occidental Petroleum Corp said on Monday it expects to spend $4.4 billion to $5.3 billion this year, depending on the price of crude oil.

Houston-based Oxy spent around $5 billion in 2018. The company is one of the largest producers in the Permian Basin, the biggest U.S. oil field, and made the spending announcements Monday at the Goldman Sachs Global Energy Conference.

U.S. producers are under pressure from investors to rein in expenses, improve profits and return money to shareholders through dividends or share buybacks.

Oxy noted in its presentation that even at a price of $40 per barrel it could maintain its dividend, keep its production level steady and not outspend its cash flow. It also said it would complete a $2 billion share repurchase program this year.

At $50 crude oil, Oxy would maintain its dividend and grow oil and gas production 5 to 8 percent.

Its highest 2019 oil price scenario was $60 per barrel and included spending $5 billion to $5.3 billion and boosting production 11 to 13 percent.

The U.S. benchmark crude oil peaked last year at $76 per barrel but has fallen since. On Monday, West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 56 cents to settle at $48.52 a barrel, a 1.17 percent gain.

Oxy holds 1.4 million acres in the Permian Basin, the heart of the shale boom. It was pumping 225,000 barrels of oil per day there at the end of the third quarter. Oxy also has assets in Columbia and Oman, as well as midstream and chemicals businesses.

Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and James Dalgleish

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