Apache was formed in 1954 with $250,000 of investor capital and the simple goal of building a significant and profitable oil company. Today, Apache is one of the world's top independent E&P companies. The journey was propelled by Apache's strong culture and its adaptability when confronted with a changing environment.
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Apache’s first wells were drilled in the Cushing Field in Cushing, Okla., between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Although the first well produced a whopping seven barrels per day, the second – the Bradley Rafferty No. 1 – commenced production at 700 barrels per day.
Apache’s first year in operation ended with net income of $12,535 on revenue of $190,000.
Apache was one of the first firms to register a drilling program with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, providing investors with the protections of SEC reporting requirements and distinguishing the young company from many of the oil patch promoters who peddled their opaque investments to less knowledgeable investors in the Twin Cities and elsewhere.
Although the oil and gas business grew rapidly, state regulatory restrictions on production – prorationing – limited profitability from operations during the late 1950s and drove Apache toward diversification. The conglomerate era began with the organization of Apache Realty Corporation in 1959 and the acquisition of office buildings – including an interest in the Foshay Tower, later the company’s headquarters – and development of Apache Plaza. one of the nation’s first enclosed malls.
The company’s name was changed to Apache Corporation in 1960, signaling that more diversification was ahead. Over the next two decades, Apache also diversified into agriculture, steel, plastics, telephones, utilities, cattle and dude ranching, aerosol cans, lumber, auto supplies and other businesses – a total of 58 acquired firms.
Apache established its reputation as an oil explorer in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin with its first major oil discovery, the Fagerness No. 1, drilled in 1967 near the town of Recluse. The discovery flowed 1,200 barrels of oil per day from the Muddy formation, and was followed by 23 oil additional producers, two gas producers and just two dry holes.
Apache's stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, opening at $30.50 per share.
Apache formed Apache Exploration Company (subsequently “Apexco”) as its oil and gas operating company in 1971. The new company provided drilling program investors with an opportunity to gain liquidity and focused management attention back to oil and gas.
With Apexco’s value exceeding the stock market value of the parent company, Apache sold Apexco in 1977 and reinvested the proceeds through a farm-in of independent producer GHK’s North Block, a valuable tract with multiple natural gas-producing formations in the Anadarko Basin of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. The value of the acreage soared when GHK founder Bobby Hefner successfully lobbied Congress to deregulate prices for natural gas produced from formations below 15,000 feet.
With signs pointing to continued strength in oil prices, in 1977 Apache began the process of selling its real estate, industrial and agricultural businesses in order to streamline the company and free up capital for investment in energy assets. The dramatic commodity price run-ups after the 1973 Arab oil embargo affirmed the decision.
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.
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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 Apache Petroleum Co. units for shares of Apache Corporation or a newly created entity, Key Production Company, which is now Cimarex Energy Company (NYSE: XEC). As the company restructured into a pure exploration and production company, Apache moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Denver.
Although Apache was an acquisitive company throughout its history, the 1990s brought a new approach for the strategy based on systems for managing and incentivizing production and exploration activities. Apache’s strategy also got a new name – “acquire and exploit.”
In 1991, Apache acquired the MW Petroleum assets from Amoco, bringing a position in one of the world’s largest oil provinces – the Permian Basin of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. The transaction was completed through a unique (for its time) price support system that protected Apache if commodity prices fell but provided Amoco with a share of the upside if prices rose.
After the MW Petroleum acquisition, Apache moved its headquarters to Houston, the center of the global oil and gas industry. Apache advanced the “acquire and exploit” methodology to add value to properties acquired from Texaco and others.
Apache’s strategy to invest in international exploration and production, which began in 1988, yielded its first operated production in the Carnarvon Basin offshore Western Australia with the 1993 acquisition of Hadson Energy Resources. The transaction provided Apache with operational control of Varanus Island, a strategic processing and transportation hub off the Western Australia coast.
Apache had a 25-percent, non-operated interest in the Qarun Concession in Egypt’s Western Desert when the operator, Phoenix Resources, drilled a discovery that flowed 12,000 barrels per day.
Recognizing that Canada’s energy market was converging with the larger U.S. market, Apache acquired Dekalb Energy Canada Ltd and established a new core area in the Western Sedimentary Basin. The region expanded with the 1999 acquisition of Shell Canada’s Plains business unit – which led to the Ladyfern discovery – and again with purchases from Phillips Petroleum and Fletcher Challenge. Twenty-five years earlier, Apache had divested prior holdings in Canada when the government adopted policies unfriendly to foreign investment.
With Egypt activities lagging after the initial Qarun discovery, Apache merged with Phoenix Resources, its joint venture partner in the concession, in 1996 and took over operations. The Phoenix merger also brought a 40-percent, non-operated interest in the much larger Khalda-area concessions, then operated by Repsol, the Spanish oil giant.
The 1977 North Block farm-in included the Stiles Ranch field in Wheeler County in the Texas Panhandle. The Bartz 19-1, drilled in 1997, was the first test of the Lower Atoka and Granite Wash horizons at Stiles Ranch. In 2009, horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing brought new life to the Granite Wash.
Apache was added to the S&P 500, an index that is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large-capitalization U.S. equities, in 1997.
The acquisition of Shell assets on the Gulf of Mexico Shelf was the first of several transactions with Shell, BP, Occidental Petroleum, Anadarko Petroleum and Devon Energy that built the largest operating portfolio in the Gulf’s shallow waters. Gulf of Mexico operations provided significant cash flow that was deployed to fund international growth.
The Ladyfern discovery tested 31 million cubic feet of gas per day from the Slave Point formation in northeast British Columbia on acreage acquired in the Shell Canada transaction just months earlier. The well was called Western Canada’s largest discovery in 15 years. For a brief period, the Ladyfern field produced 5 percent of all of the gas produced in Canada.
Apache acquired Repsol’s interests in Egypt’s Western Desert and operating control of the Khalda-area concessions in 2001. Aggressive operations and exploration spurred by 3D seismic interpretation turned the Western Desert into one of the company’s principal growth engines.
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Raymond Plank passed the title of chief executive officer to G. Steven Farris, who retained the titles of president and chief operating officer, in 2002.
Plank remained the company’s chairman until his retirement in January 2009, 54 years after he established the company with Arnao and Anderson.
Apache acquired the Forties Field, the largest field ever discovered in the United Kingdom North Sea from BP in 2003. Apache extended the life of the field through significant investment in drilling and new facilities and application of time lapse (“4D”) seismic. BP had projected that decommissioning Forties facilities would begin in 2012. The following year, however, Apache installed the Forties Alpha Satellite Platform (FASP) to accommodate new drilling and add processing capacity.
The Qasr discovery – a 2-trillion-cubic-foot resource in the Jurassic Lower Safa formation – led to Apache’s “2X” program to double gross-operated production from 2005 to 2010. The goal was achieved in June 2010, when output reached 330,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
Apache commenced production from the Zhao Dong block in Bohai Bay, China in August 2003. The production interest was sold to Australia-based ROC Oil Company for $260 million in 2006.
Apache has built 201 schools for girls in Egypt’s remote rural areas who are deprived of educational opportunities due to geographic, social and economic realities and who have little opportunity for a better future. Working through Springboard – Educating the Future, a U.S. nonprofit, and collaborating with Egypt's National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, Apache constructed the schools beginning in 2003 in communities identified by NCCM that have high rates of out-of-school girls.
Apache completed the first unconventional producing well from the Muskwa shale in the Ootla area of the Horn River Basin of northeast British Columbia during the 2005 winter drilling season. In 2008, three wells test-flowed at daily rates of 8.8 million cubic feet (MMcf), 6.1 MMcf and 5.3 MMcf of gas and confirmed a massive gas resource. Through a joint venture with Encana, Apache advanced techniques for pad drilling and more efficient completions and developed the Debolt water treatment plant that enables the use of non-potable water from underground aquifers instead of surface water.
Apache established a Tree Grant Program in 2005, awarding trees to nonprofit organizations in 16 U.S. states to help improve wildlife habitats, restore storm damage, and enhance cities and neighborhoods. The trees go to nonprofit organizations including cities, counties, schools, parks, universities, youth associations, wildlife refuges and community groups. In 2013, Apache planted its 3 millionth tree in Houston’s Memorial Park.
Five years after acquiring a small interest in Argentina, Apache purchased interests in the Neuquén and Austral basins. In 2009, Apache was the first operator to obtain government approval to sell natural gas through the Gas Plus program to encourage development of unconventional and tight-sand reservoirs by permitting the gas to be sold above regulated prices.
The Julimar field discovery in Australia, along with adjacent Brunello field discovery, proved the gas sand probability prospecting technology. The 2-trillion-cubic-feet accumulation led to participation in the Wheatstone LNG project, Apache's first LNG development and largest single capital project with net investment of $4 billion.
The deepwater Geauxpher Field at Garden Banks Block 462 in the Gulf of Mexico achieved peak production of 111 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from two wells. This project helped lead Apache into the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and developed the relationship with Mariner Energy that subsequently led to the two companies' 2010 merger.
In Egypt, the West Kalabsha C-1X was a critical Jurassic discovery in the Faghur Basin, testing at 4,746 barrels per day and 4.4 million cubic feet per day, and followed shortly thereafter by the larger discovery Phiops 1X leading to the westward expansion of Apache. Gross production from the Faghur Basin of 50,000 barrels per day propelled Apache Egypt's oil production to new records in 2011. The area has set records for the depth at which commercial oil is produced in the Western Desert.
Apache opened its first compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in Elk City, Okla., in 2009. The company has built 20 CNG stations for its fleet vehicles and other CNG vehicle owners at locations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, and about half of its truck fleet is powered by CNG.
The Hostetter #1-23H in Roger Mills County, Okla., was Apache's first operated horizontal well in the prolific Granite Wash play. The well was drilled to a depth of 12,500 feet with a 4,000-foot horizontal section and eight separate fracture-stimulation stages. Apache owns a 72-percent working interest in the well. Within 12 months of drilling this well, 90 percent of the region's drilling program was horizontal.
Oil production commenced in 2010 from the Apache-operated Van Gogh development in Exmouth Basin offshore Western Australia. Discovered in 2003, Van Gogh was Apache's first field development utilizing a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, the Ningaloo Vision, which has capacity to process 150,000 barrels of liquids per day, including 63,000 barrels of oil per day, and store 540,000 barrels of oil. Apache also owns an interest in the BHP Billiton-operated Pyrenees FPSO development offshore Western Australia.
Apache built a significant position in the oil-rich Permian Basin acreage portfolio beginning with the MW Petroleum acquisition in 1991 and continuing with additional transactions with Texaco, Collins & Ware, Hess, ExxonMobil and Anadarko. In a 2010 reorganization, Apache split its Permian operations from its Central Region (headquartered in Tulsa) and opened a Permian Region office in Midland, Texas, just as the Mariner and BP transactions were expanding the region's footprint.
After three years, Apache was the second-largest producer and most active driller in the Basin and continued to shift from vertical wells and waterfloods in conventional formations to horizontal, multi-stage fractured wells in unconventional formations such as the Wolfcamp and Cline shales.
Apache began a new round of acquisition activity in 2010. A merger with Mariner Energy for $2.7 billion and assumption of $1.2 billion in debt brought assets in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico and the Permian Basin. Apache also acquired assets from BP in the Permian Basin (West Texas and southeast New Mexico), western Canada, and Egypt for $7 billion. BP decided to sell assets in order to fund its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The expansion continued through 2012, All told, the company acquired $17 billion in assets across almost all of its regions.
Apache became an early advocate for transparency in hydraulic fracturing operations and began posting the composition of its frac fluids at FracFocus.org, a joint venture of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, in 2011.
Apache expanded its holdings in the North Sea in 2011 with acquisition of Exxon Mobil Corporation's
Apache commenced production from the Reindeer Field through the Devil Creek Gas Plant in 2012. The gas plant – Western Australia’s third domestic gas processing facility – has capacity to process 200 million cubic feet of gas and 1,000 barrels per day of condensate. Apache also owns a non-operated interest in Western Australia’s fourth domestic gas plant, the BHP Billiton-operated Macedon gas plant, which commenced production in 2013. These two prospects greatly increased Western Australia's natural gas infrastructure.
The acquisition of Cordillera Energy Partners strengthened the company’s position across the Anadarko Basin in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle by adding 312,000 net acres in the liquids-rich Granite Wash, Tonkawa, Cleveland and Marmaton plays.
Apache’s Liard discovery, along with a large position in the Horn River Basin, led to a 2012 agreement with Chevron to build and operate the Kitimat LNG project on the coast of British Columbia. Chevron Canada is operator of the LNG plant and the pipeline; Apache is operator of the upstream assets at Liard and Horn River.
Apache first obtained an interest in the Kitimat project in 2010. Rising gas production from U.S. shale plays led to the conclusion that monetizing Canada’s gas resources would require access to Asia’s LNG markets.
Apache partnered with service companies Halliburton and Schlumberger to use natural gas to power hydraulic fracturing, which is one of the most energy-intensive processes employed by the industry. Apache was the first operator to use a frac spread solely with natural gas. The company also has deployed drilling rigs powered with natural gas.
The acquisitions and technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing shifted the focus of Apache’s growth strategy from international operations to onshore North American oil- and liquids-rich plays in the Permian and Anadarko basins. By 2013, Apache was the most active operator in the Permian Basin and second-most active in the Anadarko Basin.
In May 2013, Apache announced a portfolio rebalancing to focus on operations that generate production growth or provide cash for capital investments. The first major step in the rebalancing was the sale of Apache’s Gulf of Mexico Shelf operations to Fieldwood Energy Company, a portfolio company of Riverstone Holdings, for $3.75 billion in cash and assumption of liabilities for future abandonment costs of the properties with a discounted value of $1.5 billion.
Apache announced an agreement to sell a one-third interest in its assets in Egypt to Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation for $3.1 billion with the transaction scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. Apache said it would continue to be the operator. Although Apache’s operations in Egypt continued without interruption during the political turmoil that began in January 2011 and continued into 2013, investors had discounted the value of the Egypt assets because of the uncertainty. Apache and Sinopec said the Egypt investment was the first step in a global partnership.
Apache also sold producing assets in Western Canada for an aggregate of $326 million in three separate transactions.
Apache proudly marked its 60th anniversary - or Diamond Jubilee - on Dec. 6, 2014.
Apache announced an agreement to sell its Australian subsidiary
Apache sold its interest in its LNG projects, Wheatstone LNG and Kitimat LNG, along with accompanying upstream oil and gas reserves, to Woodside Petroleum Limited for $2.75 billion.
Apache announced significant discoveries on two exploration wells in the Beryl area of the U.K. North Sea, the K and Corona wells. Additionally, Apache announced a large discovery at its Seagull prospect, which lies approximately 50 miles south of the company's Forties Field, the largest oil field in the U.K. North Sea.
The K and Corona wells are the first exploratory prospects drilled by Apache in the Beryl area. Each discovery proves a separate geologic concept that helps to de-risk additional drilling locations.
Apache announced a significant milestone at its Forties Field in celebration of 40 years since oil was first produced from Forties Alpha and transported via the Forties Pipeline System to the onshore Terminal at Cruden Bay.
The Forties Field, which Apache has successfully rehabilitated through its Apache North Sea subsidiary, remains one of the key producers in the U.K. sector of the North Sea.
Apache announced the Alpine High discovery after more than two years of extensive geologic and geophysical work, methodical acreage accumulation, and strategic testing and delineation drilling.
The Alpine High acreage lies in the southern portion of the Delaware Basin, primarily in Reeves County, Texas.