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Apache Downsizes in Western Alberta

Apache Corp. on Thursday agreed to sell half a million net acres of natural gas- and oil-rich properties in Western Alberta to a privately held Canada producer for $214 million.

The sale to Ember Resources Inc. includes about 530,000 net acres in the Nevis, North Grant Lands and South Grant Lands areas, where Apache has more than 2,700 wells. The wells in the second quarter were averaging 67 MMcf/d of natural gas and 237 b/d of liquids from the late Cretaceous sands and coal seams.

Apache would retain all of the working interest in horizons below the Cretaceous, including potential Duvernay and Nisku targets in Nevis and North Grant Lands.

"Going forward, Apache is focused on growing our liquids production from a deep inventory of crude oil and liquids-rich opportunities that generate attractive rates of return on our extensive remaining acreage" in Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, said COO Rodney J. Eichler. The Houston operator also remains "focused" on advancing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, Kitimat LNG, in British Columbia (BC) "to monetize large unconventional resources in the Liard and Horn River basins in northern British Columbia."

The prospective export terminal was licensed by Canadian regulators in late 2011 (see Daily GPIOct. 17, 2011). Chevron Corp., Apache's joint partner in the project, earlier this month indicated that it was looking for equity partners to help move it along (see Daily GPIAug. 5). Chevron's upstream chief George Kirkland said at the time the project was in a "great competitive spot and on schedule" in a growing waiting line for BC exports.

Apache, which receives most of its revenue from U.S. onshore operations, particularly in the Permian Basin, earlier had announced that it would sell about $4 billion in assets to reduce debt, enhance financial flexibility and repurchase shares (see Daily GPIMay 10). In July, it did all that and more by selling its prized Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf properties to Riverstone Holdings affiliate Fieldwood Energy LLC for an estimated $5.2 billion (see Daily GPI,July 19).

The sale to Ember "is one element of a comprehensive review of Apache's portfolio to determine which assets make the most sense for Apache to own given our growth and return objectives and which assets are better owned by others," Eichler said. "The Nevis, North Grant Lands and South Grant Lands assets fit in the latter category."

 The transaction's effective date is to be April 1; the actual hand-off is scheduled by the end of September.

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