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Junk sale buys Oxy much-needed time

US independent slices off chunk of near-term debt but ominous overhang remains an existential threat

The bankruptcy of natural gas kingpin Chesapeake Energy is a wake-up call to everyone in the US shale patch. The company’s breakneck production and acreage growth promised much but ultimately heaped up unsurmountable debts, only for the Covid-19 pandemic to hasten its downfall and claim the highest profile casualty yet. Other big-name victims could follow in its wake, particularly if 2021 fails to reverse company fortunes. US independent Occidental Petroleum has substantial debt obligations starting to become due from next year. The company’s long-term debt maturities have grown to over $40bn following the much-critiqued Anadarko deal last year, a figure over four times higher than the one



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