Berkshire Hathaway has secured approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to acquire up to a 50% stake in Occidental Petroleum, reported Reuters.

The US energy regulator was cited by the news agency as saying in a filing that Berkshire’s proposal to purchase stocks of Occidental Petroleum is ‘consistent with the public interest’.  

In July 2022, Berkshire, controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett, filed an application with the energy regulator seeking approval to buy more common stock of the oil company in secondary market transactions.

Berkshire claimed that the proposed transaction would not affect the competition, boost costs for consumers, or undermine regulatory authority.

Berkshire currently owns 188.5 million shares or a 20.2% stake in Occidental.

Occidental spokesman Eric Moses was cited by Bloomberg News as saying in an emailed statement: “The approval of this filing allows Berkshire, from a FERC perspective, to accumulate up to 50% ownership of Oxy’s common shares, which is necessary because we own assets subject to FERC regulation. The prior FERC approval threshold was at 25%.”

Smead Capital Management, which owns shares in Occidental and Berkshire, president Cole Smead said: “Buffett is taking advantage of stock market participants who are foolish about the oil and gas industry and consider it a dead business. Buffett thinks it can make him wealthy.”

Said to be one of the largest oil producers in the US, Occidental has operations in the Permian and DJ basins, and offshore the Gulf of Mexico. It also has assets in the Middle East and North Africa.

Occidental also has a chemical subsidiary called OxyChem.