Apache to sell Canadian assets for $374M

HOUSTON — Apache Corp. has struck a deal to sell oil and gas acreage in western Canada for $374 million, freeing up cash to reward investors with further share buybacks, the company said Monday.

Houston-based Apache plans to part with 328,400 net acres of mostly dry-gas land in Alberta and British Columbia, but said it is holding on to its stake in deep, liquids-rich subterranean rock in the Wapiti area in Alberta.

Apache did not disclose the buyer of the property but anticipates the deal to close April 30. The company said its take-home from the deal will fund part of its bid to buy back 30 million shares, worth about $2.5 billion on Monday.

The deal comes in the same month Apache had declared it was finished with a year-long bid to trim assets and overhaul its balance sheet, which culminated in the close of an $800 million cash deal to unload operations in Argentina.

Apache Chairman and CEO Steven Farris called the agreement another piece of the company’s effort to shift its focus to growing oil and natural gas liquids production in North America.

“The sale of these natural gas assets — and other Canadian gas-producing properties sold last year — will permit Apache’s Canada Region to concentrate on liquids-rich opportunities that can provide more attractive rates of return and more predictable production growth,” Farris said in a written statement Monday.

The global hunt for buyers isn’t over yet, it seems. Farris said at an analyst meeting last month Apache is also looking to shrink its stake in a $2.7 billion liquefied natural gas project in Canada, of which it had split ownership with Chevron Corp. last year.

In the past year, Apache sold off its stake in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico and a third of its assets in Egypt for a combined $6.85 billion. Churning energy out of North American oil land has recently become 60 percent of Apache’s business, almost double its share five years ago.

Apache shares rose 39 cents in early trading Monday to $83.41 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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