Apache’s entry into the Gulf of Mexico came in 1980, when the company acquired a non-operating interest in GoM production through participation in the Shell Joint Venture. Apache became an operator in the Gulf with the 1986 acquisition of oil and gas assets from Occidental Petroleum.
Apache created a new investment vehicle to benefit investors in 1981, when its many drilling partnerships were consolidated into Apache Petroleum Company (APC), the United States’ first publicly traded master limited partnership (MLP). The new investment vehicle provided investors with the liquidity and opportunity for price appreciation of a stock and the tax advantages of a partnership.
The Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming, was established by Raymond Plank in 1981. Located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch, the foundation fosters fresh and innovative thinking in the visual arts, literature, and music by providing residencies, work space and uninterrupted time to individual artists, writers, and composers. Many Ucross Foundation Fellows have received major awards and honors including Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Annie Proulx and Doug Wright; MacArthur Fellows Charles Wuorinen, Sarah Ruhl, and Colson Whitehead; Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel, and National Book Award winners Jean Valentine and Ha Jin. In 2004, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote a draft of her blockbuster, Eat, Pray, Love at Ucross.
In 1987, after the worldwide collapse of oil prices and a U.S. tax reform that diminished the tax advantages of limited partnerships, Apache offered to exchange APC units for shares of Apache Corporation or a newly created entity, Key Production Company, which is now Cimarex Energy Company (NYSE: XEC). That same year, as the company restructured into a pure exploration and production company, Apache moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Denver.
Apache hired Francis H. (Mick) Merelli as president and G. Steven Farris as vice president of exploration and production in 1988. They introduced management and incentive systems that have been important factors in the company’s transition to a large, international E&P company.