Forgive me, but Occidental Petroleum's (NYSE:OXY) quarterly earnings report was something of a yawner. The company did nothing inappropriate, but given the world's general whistling-past-the-graveyard approach to energy, a few relatively minor quarterly financial and operating fluctuations among energy companies don't seem too important. 

Occidental announced essentially flat bottom-line results: net income of $1.21 billion, or $1.43 per share, for the quarter, compared to $1.23 billion, or $1.43 per share, in the year-ago period. The per-share earnings constancy resulted from a 1.7% decrease in the number of shares outstanding. At the same time, Oxy's "core" earnings -- excluding one-time items -- decreased to $831 million from the prior-year $1.15 billion.

Most of the variation in any oil and gas producer's results depends upon fluctuating commodity prices. For instance, Occidental's realized price for crude oil in the first quarter of 2007 was $51.78 per barrel, down 6.5% from the prior year's $55.38 average. Its average realization for U.S. natural gas decreased 23.7% to $6.38, down from $8.36 per thousand cubic feet. U.S. crude oil and liquids production was essentially flat year over year, as was natural gas production.

In addition to its oil and gas operating activities, the company has agreed to acquire a 2,300-mile pipeline running from the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico -- where the company has significant operations -- to Cushing, Okla. The pipeline has been owned by BP (NYSE:BP), and has a daily throughput capacity of slightly more than 190,000 barrels of crude per day. At the same time, Occidental will sell BP its oil and gas operations in Pakistan, which BP already operates.

On Tuesday, separate from Los Angeles-based Occidental's release, legendary Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens predicted that the world's demand for oil would outstrip its supply by the end of this year, and that domestic prices would increase to $80 or higher a barrel during the fourth quarter. Given everything I know about energy, I'm not certain of Pickens' timing, but I find his overall vision hard to dispute.

Where does all this leave those who either have invested in Occidental, or might be inclined to do so? While I might be more inclined toward companies with more international flavor, such as ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) or ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), I'd also suggest that Fools keep Oxy in their sights, pending second- and third-quarter results that likely will benefit from higher crude prices.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.