DENVER—At turns feeling like “suckers” or simply confused, Occidental Petroleum Inc.’s two-year saga to buy Anadarko Petroleum turned from finesse to hardball as the company negotiated a deal valued at $55 billion.

In May 2017, on his first day at Occidental, CFO Cedric Burgher was told the company had set its sight on acquiring Anadarko.

“I was like, ‘Woah, wait a minute, can we slow the bus down a little bit,’” Burgher said at a keynote luncheon address on Aug. 12 at EnerCom’s The Oil & Gas Conference.

Burgher defended the deal as well as a recent joint venture (JV) with a Colombian company in the Midland Basin that Pioneer Resources Inc. CEO Scott Sheffield said was largely noncore acreage.

“We acknowledge this is a bold move for Occidental,” Burgher said. But, by 2022, the company’s acquisition stands to double free cash flow, after dividends, compared to its previous plans.

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