Oil companies worldwide have been trying to increase production, but are struggling to balance increases without undercutting shareholder returns, Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub said on May 11.
Energy companies are under pressure to increase output and stem the tide of inflation and fuel shortages. Executives have faced criticism for not quickly responding to calls for more. Oil prices hit a 14-year high in March and have helped push U.S. inflation to double-digit levels.
“It is almost value destruction if you try to accelerate anything now,” Hollub said during a conference call to discuss the company’s first-quarter results.
Occidental’s output fell last quarter but it is projecting a slight increase for the year.
The U.S. oil producer, which plans to resume repurchasing its shares this quarter to reward investors, could boost output by as much as 5% next year if returns stay high. But rising service and material costs have limited what companies can do to quickly address oil supply.
“There are a lot of headwinds to increasing production worldwide,” Hollub said. “Some of the longer-term projects just can’t get started because of the cost involved.”
The company increased its capex by $250 million mostly to cover for inflation costs, she said. It also gave up on a multi-rig program for its Colorado operations after having its drilling permits restricted to one unit by regulators for the remainder of 2022, she said.
Occidental will resume its share repurchase program this quarter after reaching its $20 billion net debt target, CFO Robert Peterson said during the call.
The producer had previously disclosed plans to use $3 billion for buybacks.
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