Apache Is Hitting Its Stride


Fellow Fool David Lee Smith was spot-on earlier this month when he pointed out the bright future for Apache (NYSE: APA) that is tied to its impressive collection of assets across the globe, highlighting recent U.S. onshore acquisitions and growing production numbers. In the weeks since, Apache's international assets have begun to steal some of the spotlight.

North Sea
Many investors wondered at the strategy when Apache announced last year that it was picking up ExxonMobil's (NYSE: XOM) North Sea assets. If Exxon was letting them go, how good could they possibly be? At the time, CEO Steve Farris called them the best North Sea assets the company had evaluated since the Forties field in 2003. And he was right.

The company's B72 well in the Beryl field is flowing at the highest rate of any well in that field since 2001, producing 11,625 barrels of oil and 13.1 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. The results bode well for the future of the field, which Apache operates. The company holds a 50% stake, while partners Hess (NYSE: HES) , Enterprise Oil, and OMV account for the rest of the ownership.

Apache has a 13% stake in the Western Australia Wheatstone LNG project operated by Chevron (NYSE: CVX) . Last week, the two companies announced a deal to supply up to 1 million tons of liquefied natural gas per annum to Japan's Tohoku Electric Power Company for up to 20 years. Apache's share of that commitment comes to about 19 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Including this deal, the Wheatstone LNG partnership has secured long-term commitments for 80% of its planned production. The project is expected to come online in 2016.

Foolish takeaway
There is a lot of good news coming out of the Apache camp of late, including record production and lucrative acquisitions, but the mid-major exploration and production company needs help to keep up its success. Oil-field service companies, like the one Fool analysts have dubbed "The Only Energy Stock You'll Ever Need," will be in high demand as oil and gas companies like Apache strive to ramp up production.