According to a report in the Financial Times, Occidental Petroleum (OXY -0.37%) is working on a deal to sell millions of acres of land to the state of Wyoming. The transaction could include more than 1 million acres of surface land and an additional 4 million acres of underground mineral rights. That would make it the largest land purchase in the country since the U.S. government bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. The reported purchase price would be somewhere in the range of $1 billion to $3 billion.
The sale would help Occidental Petroleum raise cash so that it can quickly pay off the debt it incurred when it acquired Anadarko Petroleum last year. The company intends to sell up to $15 billion of assets to help with debt reduction. It has already signed deals to sell $10.2 billion of assets, including $565 million in real estate in Texas.
The state of Wyoming, meanwhile, sees the potential land purchase as a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, according to state officials. It would allow the state to gain control over a vast swath of land that it could use as a revenue generator. The property has the potential for oil and gas drilling, renewable energy production from wind and solar farms, and as a right of way for electricity transmission lines. The state could also use it for grazing land as well as for big-game hunting.
Wyoming's legislature is moving quickly to pass the necessary bills so that it can make the purchase as well as negotiate an acceptable price. However, there are no guarantees that the parties will agree to nor close a transaction.