Occidental Petroleum is exploring the sale of WES, a pipeline operator focused on natural gas in the US that could be valued at more than $20bn, including debt, reported Reuters.

This potential divestment is part of Occidental’s strategy to reduce its significant debt, which currently stands at $18.5bn.

In December 2023, Occidental agreed to purchase CrownRock, an oil and gas producer, for $12bn, adding to its debt load.

Four years earlier, it bought Anadarko Petroleum for $54bn.

CrownRock is a joint venture between CrownQuest Operating and Lime Rock Partners.

Currently, Occidental owns a 49% stake in WES and has operational control through its ownership of its general partner, reported the news outlet.

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JPMorgan Chase is advising Occidental on the sale process, with the aim to maximise the value from its WES stake.

WES is expected to draw interest from companies such as Enterprise Products Partners, Williams Companies and Kinder Morgan, as well as private equity and infrastructure funds.

Commenting on Occidental’s move, WES said: “WES has not launched a sales process nor has it engaged bankers or other advisors with a view toward doing so.

“We are aware, as has been publicly stated, that Occidental Petroleum Corporation (“Oxy”) has expressed interest in divesting assets. We cannot speak to the composition of the assets Oxy may seek to divest, and any questions regarding Oxy’s ownership interest in WES should be directed to Oxy.”

While the sale is not certain, Occidental has reaffirmed its commitment to lowering its debt below $15bn, reported Reuters.

WES has approximately 16,000 miles of pipelines and various processing and treatment facilities.

The company’s midstream assets are located in the Rocky Mountains, north-central Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico.