The story of Occidental (Oxy) in the Mena region in recent years has been one of retreat. But having winnowed out what it saw as the chaff, the US firm is now finetuning its more streamlined regional portfolio. The past week saw it become the third firm to snap up acreage in Abu Dhabi’s debut licensing round.

On 2 February Oxy was awarded the ‘Onshore 3’ block next to some of Abu Dhabi’s prime upstream real estate (see map). Critically, it also abuts the Shah sour...