WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., JULY 23 -- The federal judge overseeing Texaco Inc.'s bankruptcy proceedings today sharply criticized a $4.1 billion settlement and reorganization proposal submitted earlier this week by Pennzoil Co.

But the acting chairman of Texaco's general creditors committee, Jeffrey Hodgman, said that while the Pennzoil plan was too expensive, it was "possible" that an accommodation between creditors and Pennzoil could be reached through negotiations. "It's going to be tough to accomplish, but it's conceivable," he said.

Judge Howard Schwartzberg said Pennzoil's proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, under which Pennzoil would accept $4.1 billion to settle its three-year-old lawsuit against Texaco, was "sort of like a Russian election {because} no one gets to vote and Pennzoil accepts its own offer."

(The Pennzoil plan did provide for a vote by Texaco shareholders. Schwartzberg was apparently referring to Texaco's creditors, who did not appear to have voting rights under the Pennzoil proposal.)

Schwartzberg and Hodgman delivered their remarks at a day-long hearing called to determine whether the period during which Texaco has exclusive rights to file a bankruptcy reorganization plan, which would include a way to provide for Pennzoil's record $10.3 billion legal judgment, should be extended. Schwartzberg said he would reserve his decision on the extension until Friday.

Texaco has asked Schwartzberg to extend the exclusivity period, during which Pennzoil would be prohibited from filing its own reorganization plan, until March 1988. Harvey Miller, Texaco's lead bankruptcy lawyer, said today that the time was needed in part because Texaco has not finished its appeal of Pennzoil's judgment.

Miller also said that the complexity of Texaco's business operations had slowed preparation of a reorganization plan.

Attorneys for the two committees representing Texaco creditors in the bankruptcy proceedings said they support an extension, but one much shorter than requested by Texaco. "Chapter 11 is a safe harbor, but it's not supposed to be a rest home," said George Wise, who represents the general creditors committee.

Pennzoil was awarded $10.53 billion in 1985 when a Houston jury found that Texaco improperly interfered with a merger contract between Pennzoil and Getty Oil Co. Earlier this year, the Texas Court of Appeals upheld all but $2 billion of the jury verdict. Texaco sought bankruptcy protection in April.

The case is now on appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, which is expected to decide by October whether it will review the matter. Texaco's appeal prospects were bolstered Wednesday when the Securities and Exchange Commission said it would file a brief supporting one of Texaco's key legal arguments in the case.

Last Monday, Pennzoil shifted attention away from the Texas appeal by unveiling in bankruptcy court an unexpected reorganization proposal that included the $4.1 billion settlement plan. In public statements accompanying the filing, Pennzoil was sharply critical of Texaco management, saying the company's leaders had abandoned their shareholders' interests in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Pennzoil apparently hoped to rally large Texaco stockholders, including Australian investor Robert Holmes a Court, who has been steadily increasing his stake in Texaco. But that strategy did not pan out -- Holmes a Court sent a letter to Texaco on Tuesday saying that he did not want to force the company into a quick settlement with Pennzoil, and support from other major stockholders was not forthcoming.

Moreover, testimony at today's hearing made it clear that Pennzoil's $4.1 billion proposal came as no surprise to the creditor committees centrally involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. Hodgman and two Pennzoil executives testified that the proposal had been pushed on creditors at private meetings called by Pennzoil more than a month ago.

"We told them it {the $4.1 billion figure} was too high," Hodgman said. And while the Pennzoil offer was viewed by creditors as an opening for further discussions, "There have been no meaningful discussions with Pennzoil" since June, Hodgman added.

Baine P. Kerr, chairman of Pennzoil's executive committee, said after the hearing that the $4.1 billion proposal was filed with Schwartzberg despite the lack of initial enthusiasm expressed by creditors because "it's very difficult for this judge to make a decision without having some idea of what's feasible. And what's feasible depends in large part on us."