UPDATE 1-Occidental plans sale of Middle East oil stake
* Board approves sale of minority interest in Middle East, North African assets
* Company aims to become smaller, less exposed to political risk - CEO
* Considering options for some Rocky Mountain assets
* Could sell stake in Plains All American Pipeline for $1.3 bln
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Occidental Petroleum Corp will look to sell a minority stake in its Middle East and North African operations and said it will consider options for some of its oil and gas assets in the Rocky Mountain region.
Occidental has spoken openly since April about striking a deal to reduce its exposure to the Middle East and North Africa, part of a broader plan to split up the fourth-largest U.S oil company.
Its assets across the region, which include oilfields in Libya, Iraq and Yemen, could be worth between $15 billion and $20 billion, analysts have said.
"Our goal is to become a somewhat smaller company with more manageable exposure to political risk," Chief Executive Stephen Chazen said in a statement on Friday.
Occidental is the second-largest oil producer offshore Qatar. Its other holdings in the Middle East include a 24.5 percent stake in the Dolphin Gas Project in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, as well as assets in Bahrain and Oman.
The company also said its board had authorized the sale of part of its 35 percent stake in the general partner of pipeline company Plains All American Pipeline LP for pre-tax proceeds of about $1.3 billion.
Occidental's remaining interest in Plains All American Pipeline, based on the initial public offering price, was worth about $3.4 billion, the company said.
Occidental said the various sales would generate "a significant amount" of funds that would largely be used, along with excess cash on its balance sheet, to reduce the company's capitalization.
Occidental's shares closed at $98.08 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.