Much Anticipated Wyoming Bid To Purchase Occidental Land "On Hold"

Aug 11, 2020

Occidental's land acreage breakdown by county

After much anticipation, the Governor's Office announced this afternoon that Occidental Petroleum moved on with another parties' bid for its one million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights in southern Wyoming. The company alerted Gov. Mark Gordon over the weekend that Wyoming was not selected, according to his office.

The news was made public today after a quarterly earnings call where Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub said the company had selected an unnamed bidder to proceed with, "and we're working on due diligence and the purchase and sale agreement with a bidder that we selected."

The Governor's Office press release said Wyoming was not that bidder, but that these are only negotiations and that the situation could change.

"I thank everyone who has supported this bid and provided feedback as we pursue this bold opportunity, which could be the biggest land purchase in state history," Gov. Mark Gordon said. "We believe our bid positions Wyoming to generate additional investment revenue and would keep taxes low into the future. I greatly appreciate the willingness of Occidental to work with the State of Wyoming as a bidder."

The State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) chose to make a bid on the land in early July. A public meeting occurred just prior to its submission as Gordon explained the purchase could help diversify the state's investment portfolio.

"This is strictly an investment decision and has the need to price [sic] discipline that is absolutely necessary to make it a successful investment," he said on July 7, though many parties pushed back on the risks involved.

In today's press release, Gordon reiterated that this is a "once-in-a-generation opportunity." During the SLIB meeting in July, he said the land doesn't just have oil and gas, but gravel, geodes, trona, and potential for renewables, real estate, and grazing.

Given Occidental's announcement is not final, the State will keep its bid confidential until there's a final sale or Wyoming withdraws its bid. The company expects to move along with the sale. On today's second quarter earnings call, CEO Hollub said they expect to close on the deal in the late third or early fourth quarter of 2020.

The Governor's office does not know the identity of the leading bidder nor the amount of its bid.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Cooper McKim, at cmckim5@uwyo.edu.