Occidental Petroleum’s (NYSE:OXY) current chief executive Dr. Ray R. Irani is voluntarily giving up the stop spot, though he is staying on board full-time as executive chairman until his retirement in 2014.

Based on Irani’s recommendation, current chief operating officer Stephen I. Chazen has been named his successor, elected Wednesday by the Los Angeles-based company’s board of directors.

Chazen will replace Irani at the company’s 2011 annual meeting next spring.

In his new position, Irani will focus on the oil and gas exploration company’s corporate strategy, Middle East operations and international business development, all while still heading several corporate functions.

Irani joined the company in 1983 as chief executive officer of its chemical business. He has served as CEO of Occidental’s main business since 1990.

“Irani has been an outstanding CEO who has brought great vision to the company, and the board is extremely pleased that Occidental shareholders will continue to benefit from his strengths in his new role,” Aziz D. Syriani, lead independent director said on behalf of the board. “Irani and Chazen have had a productive partnership for many years, and the board believes that a continuation of this partnership is in the best interests of Occidental and its stockholders.”

Chazen, who has 30 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, joined Occidental in 1994 as executive vice president of corporate development.

He was named chief financial officer in 1999 and served in that spot until promoted in August to his current role of chief operating officer. Also this year, Chazen was elected to the company’s board of directors.