Higher prices and overall record production boosted Apache Corp. earnings by 30 cents a share in the first quarter to $1.97/diluted share or $660 million, up from $559 million in 1Q 2005.

Natural gas production of 1.4 Bcf/d was 8% above levels in 1Q2005. However, Apache’s U.S. gas production declined to about 601 MMcf/d from 637.8 MMcf/d in the first quarter of 2005. Canadian production rose to nearly 386 MMcf/d from about 347 MMcf/d in 1Q2005. The average price for domestic production was $7.14/Mcf, up from $6.04/Mcf. Canadian production garnered an average of $7.73/Mcf, up from $5.59/Mcf. Production grew significantly in Egypt and Australia, although prices were weaker than in the United States and Canada.

“Apache got off to a strong start in the first quarter, and, barring some unforeseen world-changing event, the coming quarters should be even stronger,” said CEO G. Steven Farris. “We are well into a very active drilling campaign for the year; we have closed on the Pioneer acquisition in Argentina, and we plan to close the BP Gulf of Mexico transaction (see Daily GPI, April 20) by the end of the second quarter.

“We expect our production growth will continue to build over the remainder of the year. We believe Apache is on track to achieve 12% to 17% production growth in 2006.”

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