Occidental Petroleum Corp. plans to seek the path of least resistance when it comes to drilling in California.

The Westwood oil giant’s chief executive, Stephen Chazen, last week indicated to Wall Street analysts that the company will not mount costly battles to drill in communities that oppose fracking. It will bring its jobs and money to other areas instead.

Responding to an analyst’s query about a growing number of cities considering bans on the controversial procedure, Chazen said the company has enough holdings elsewhere in the state to satisfy the plans for its new spinoff, California Resources Corp.

“To the extent that towns don’t want us there, we won’t be there,” he said. “We’ve got lots of acreage in California. There are lots of counties and towns that would like us there, want the jobs. Some of these places that don’t want us have very high unemployment rates. And if they don’t want us there, it’s just fine.”

That means the Occidental spinoff is likely to intensify drilling in its holdings in more sparsely populated areas in the state, an analyst said.

“As would be expected, the more sparsely populated parts of the state have less aversion to drilling activity – quite simply, it doesn’t get in the way as much,” said Pavel Molchanov, the analyst in the Houston office of Raymond James and Associates of St. Petersburg, Fla. who posed the question to Chazen during the company’s earnings conference call. “This certainly includes the central inland region, near Bakersfield and in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the practice of injecting water, sand and chemicals such as anti-freeze into the ground to help extract oil and natural gas. Opponents claim these chemicals can contaminate groundwater supplies and cause respiratory problems for those living nearby. Some say fracking can trigger earthquakes.

Last week, Beverly Hills became the first California city to pass a ban on fracking. Compton is considering a ban, and Los Angeles and Culver City are considering temporary bans that would target fracking and other drilling procedures.

Carson passed a 45-day moratorium on fracking in March as the city was set to consider an Occidental drilling project in the northeast corner of the South Bay city. But after proponents of the project said it would bring jobs and revenue, the City Council later voted to let the moratorium expire.

Before last week’s conference call, Occidental reported first quarter net income of $1.39 billion ($1.75 a share) compared with $1.36 billion ($1.68 a share) in the same period a year earlier, a 2.6 percent increase. Revenue rose 3.7 percent to $6.09 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected net income of $1.70 a share on revenue of $6.2 billion. Occidental shares rose 1.2 percent for the week ended May 7 to close at $96.23.

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