Apache to shutter Alaska operations

Apache Corporation, which has been exploring oil and gas resources in the Cook Inlet area, announced recently that it will exit the state.

The Houston, Texas-based corporation has been exploring north of Nikiski since approximately 2010. Apache’s Alaska general manager, John Hendrix, informed the Legislature of the company’s decision.

The company’s spokesperson, Castlen Kennedy, said in an email that the company would retain its Alaska assets but would not seek renewal of the leases when they expire, which will come at the end of 2016.

“Due to the current downturn, Apache has had to significantly scale back operations and spending,” Kennedy said in an email. “We recently reduced our spending plans for 2016 by 60 percent from 2015 levels and are focusing our limited dollars on specific international opportunities and strategic testing in North America.”

The company also holds assests elsewhere in the United States and Canada, including mid-continent and in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Low oil prices are certainly affecting the way companies do business not just here in Alaska but across the nation,” said Walker in a release. “My team and I are committed to working with the federal government and producers to increase oil production into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System and achieving a balanced and sustainable state budget.”

The news was publicly announced during the Alaska House of Representatives morning press conference Feb. 25. Low oil prices informed most of the decision, said Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski. Chenault said he spoke to the company about its decision.

“With oil prices the way they are, they don’t really have much choice,” Chenault said. “They can’t keep investing money without a short term investment.”

He said the local economy will likely feel the company’s departure.

“It could be just about anyone, all the way down to the restaurant down the street that’s providing food (to the workers),” Chenault said. “Each time one of these smaller companies goes away, it affects everyone.”

The company had been engaged in stop-and-start exploration and seismic data gathering, marked by multiple delays and consideration of other potential projects, such as extending the North Road. 

In its annual report to the Securities and Exchanges Commission, the company called 2015 “a transitional year for Apache.” Most of its adaptation to low oil prices was to reduce activity and cut overhead and operating costs, according to the report.

“We are prepared for a potentially ‘lower for longer’ commodity price cycle, while retaining our ability to dynamically manage our activity levels as commodity price and service costs dictate,” the company wrote in its annual report.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, the chair of the Senate Resources Committee, said in a statement that she was disappointed that low oil prices forced the company to exit.

“My hope is that we, as a state, can set the right environment and conditions for our private economy to weather the economic downturn,” Giessel said. 

“We owe it to Alaska’s economy, Alaska’s communities and Alaska’s families to be measured in how state government moves forward.”

Elizabeth Earl is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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