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Debt-laden Occidental to sell Colombia onshore assets for $825 million

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Occidental Petroleum is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Debt-laden U.S. oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp OXY.N said on Thursday it has agreed to sell its onshore assets in Colombia to private equity firm Carlyle Group Inc CG.O for $825 million.

The cash-strapped company said it is continuing to advance other asset sales as it tries to find cash to pay off debt amid a crude price crash. It has so far announced over $2 billion worth of divestitures this year.

The Colombia assets sale, expected to close in the fourth quarter, includes the company’s operations and working interests in the Llanos Norte, Middle Magdalena and Putumayo Basins.

The company has operated in the Andean country alongside Colombia's majority state-owned Ecopetrol ECO.CN for more than 40 years. The two companies also have a joint venture in the Permian Basin in the United States.

Occidental said it will retain a presence in the South American country through its offshore exploration blocks.

“We have expanded our strategic partnership with Ecopetrol to the onshore U.S. and to exploration blocks offshore Colombia,” Occidental Chief Executive Vicki Hollub said in a statement. “These highly prospective offshore blocks hold tremendous potential that could significantly bolster the country’s energy resources.”

A spokesman for Ecopetrol said the company had no comment on the sale of assets.

Occidental’s debt ballooned after it paid $38 billion to buy Anadarko Petroleum last year, an ill-timed bet on rising oil prices. The company had total long term debt of $36.03 billion as of the end of June, according to Refinitiv data.

In August, the company said it would sell some of its Wyoming, Colorado and Utah assets to Orion Mine Finance for about $1.33 billion.

Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Jonathan Oatis

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