By Devika Krishna Kumar
(Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp is offering its employees voluntary buyouts over the next two weeks, according to a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday, citing the sharp decline in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic for "severe dislocations" in its business.
Occidental bet heavily on the continued growth in U.S. shale oil, taking on heavy debts for its controversial purchase of Anadarko Petroleum last year for $38 billion. That bet has proved ill-timed following the coronavirus outbreak, which has cut fuel demand worldwide by about 30% and is responsible for the worst oil-and-gas-industry downturn in 40 years.
Energy companies worldwide, including Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, have slashed capital expenditures and oil output to reckon with the pandemic.
Houston-based Occidental last week posted a $2 billion quarterly loss and has slashed capital spending drastically to shore up its balance sheet. The company said that if spending cuts are not met, it will have "serious potential consequences" to the company, the document said.
Interested employees can submit a resignation offer to Occidental through May 26, specifying the number of months of base salary that they will accept for voluntary separation, according to the document. Employees can amend or withdraw offers unless the company has already accepted them by then, the document said. Offers not accepted will expire automatically on June 12.
Occidental declined to comment.
The company's shares are down 64% on the year, making it one of the worst-performing stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index.
Occidental has been cutting expenses to deal with its debt-laden balance sheet and had been laying off workers and selling assets to pare down debt even before the fall in oil prices.
The company said last week it is considering raising new cash, swapping debt for stock or refinancing existing debt due to shrinking oil demand. It withdrew its outlook for 2020.
It cut its 2020 capex budget on three separate occasions this year, most recently to $2.5 billion from an original plan of $5.3 billion.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and additional reporting by Shariq Khan in Bangalore; Writing by David Gaffen; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)