HOUSTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The world's largest independent oil explorer, Occidental Petroleum, said production increased 3.2 percent from the first quarter, but financial losses mounted.
The company said Wednesday it took a loss of $139 million for the second quarter, versus a profit of $176 million one year ago, for its first such decline in more than 20 years. Production, however, increased 3.2 percent from the first quarter to 609,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, driven in large part by production in the Middle East.
President and CEO Vicki Hollub said costs were under control at a time when oil prices remain weak and full-year output should increase by at least 4 percent, all while staying within a $3 billion spending target. Last month, the company authorized an increase in dividends despite the loss.
"The increase reflects our confidence in the company's financial strength, strong performance and future prospects," Hollub said in a statement.
During first quarter 2015, the company, known by its ticker symbol Oxy, boasted that first quarter production was up 13 percent year-on-year in part because of output from the Permian shale in Texas. In its second quarter earnings report for this year, the company said part of its strategy was to reduce exposure in non-core assets was in the United States.
The company said it moved through the second quarter with an average price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil at $45.59 per barrel, which it said was a 35 percent rebound from the first quarter. WTI struggled to hold $40 per barrel in early Wednesday trading.
Hollub took the helm at Occidental last year "after a thorough transition period."