Apache attempts to reassure investors about N. American focus

HOUSTON — Apache Corp., a Houston-based oil and gas independent, responded to a letter from an activist investor, saying it will continue to try to re-balance its portfolio to focus more closely on North America.

Jana Partners LLC said in a letter to investors Monday that it has built up a $1 billion stake in the company and wants it to drill exclusively in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The hedge fund has not responded to requests from FuelFix for the letter.

Apache is in the midst of a massive effort to reduce its footprint abroad and focus more closely on North American onshore operations.

The company has  earned more than $10 billion from a series of sales and divestitures it began announcing in late 2012. The company has sold its operations in Argentina and its assets in the shallow-water Gulf of Mexico and reduced its stake in Egypt, among other deals.

But Jana Partners contends that isn’t enough.

“Investors are unimpressed by [Apache]‘s global diversification and have voted with their feet,” the letter said, according to the newspaper.

Jana wants Apache to exit liquefied natural gas projects in Canada and Australia, among other moves Jana contends will increase shareholder value. Otherwise, Jana said, Apache should consider selling itself, the Wall Street Journal said.

Apache spokesman Patrick Cassidy said the company’s management and board of directors value input from shareholders.

“We are focused on continuing to execute our strategic plan to rebalance our portfolio and to focus our strategy on more predictable and profitable production growth in our North American onshore assets,” Cassidy said in a statement.

“We will continue to take actions to enhance shareholder value,” he added.