The Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) spinoff, California Resources Corp. (CRC), is lowering its profile to fit a continuing low-priced commodity environment by shedding debt and rethinking the need for various asset sales, CFO Mark Smith said Wednesday as part of a panel discussion at the Goldman Sachs Global Energy Conference in Miami.

Similar to many other exploration/production (E&P) companies today, CRC is taking steps to ride out the low-price period and be ready to take advantage once prices turn upward.

Smith reiterated a year-end presentation the former Oxy unit gave in mid-December that projected average production for full-year 2015 to be up by 1% to 160,000 boe/d and crude oil to be up 5% to 104,000 b/d, compared to the previous year. Cash costs, excluding interest charges, are expected to fall by 11% from 2014 levels, he said.

While earlier last fall on a 3Q2015 earnings call, CRC CEO Todd Stevens had indicated the company's first asset sale would be completed by the end of last year (see Daily GPINov. 10, 2015) that didn't happen due to continuing decreasing commodity prices. In his Sachs presentation, Smith outlined a number of assets that were potentially up for sale, including a large suite of midstream mostly natural gas-related assets.

Nevertheless, Smith said while CRC had exchanged term sheets for some potential transactions late last year, it pulled the deals off the table, partially due to lower oil prices after OPEC's early December meeting in which it decided not to curb production of global supplies. He said CRC doesn't need asset sales/monetizations to meet its strategic goal of spending within its cash flow this year.

In Miami, Smith pointed out that CRC last year and in 2014 has realized average prices for crude oil and natural gas that lagged below West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Nymex prices for both years, and its prices for natural gas liquids (NGL) dropped to 39% of the WTI prices last year from 51% in 2014. In 2011, CRC's realized prices for NGLs were 74% of WTI.

Smith listed many upstream and midstream assets that CRC holds in California as the state's largest oil/gas acreage owner (2.3 million net acres). They include a lot of gas assets related to the Elk Hills play in California -- 14 gas processing plants with a collective capacity of 650 MMcf/d; various compressor stations with 395,000 horsepower of compression; and 600 MW of gas-fired generation and 700 miles of high-voltage power lines.

Wall Street is taking more interest in the prospects for E&Ps like CRC shedding assets in today's low commodity price environment.

"We're at a point where E&Ps are actively looking at partnering with midstream players on joint ventures to take some money off the table and to have a partner to build out their future infrastructure needs," a CEO at a midstream private equity investment firm said. "Also some of the E&Ps are selling their midstream assets wholesale."