Confident On Egypt Investment After Cairo Visit: Apache CEO

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The chief executive of Apache Corp. (APA) on Saturday gave a vote of confidence in Egypt’s political reform process as the U.S. energy company pushes ahead with its multibillion-dollar expansion in the troubled country. “Certainly they (Egypt) are going through a very difficult time,” said Steve Farris. But the chief executive, who visited Cairo last week for four days en route to Australia, said he remains “very optimistic” about Egypt’s prognosis as it looks to elect a president later this year following an upcoming referendum on a revised constitution.

“For our operations nothing has changed–we have never been down a day on the production side and nor have we dropped a rig,” Farris told reporters.

Last year, Apache kept its Egyptian operations running despite the bloody uprising in the Arab nation that resulted in the ousting of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

The Houston-based company is aggressively expanding its Egyptian production, including oil assets in the Western Desert region purchased off BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) in mid 2010.

“We are going to invest a billion dollars (in Egypt) in 2012; we invested about $1.1 billion in 2011,” he said.

Farris was speaking at the official opening of Apache’s A$1.1 billion Devil Creek gas processing plant, in the remote Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The plant’s gas will mostly power energy-hungry mining operations in the area, many of which are expanding to satisfy Chinese demand for iron ore and other commodities.

Devil Creek, which is owned 55% by Apache and 45% by Australia’s Santos Ltd. (STO.AU, SSLTY), is designed to process 200 million cubic feet of gas a day, along with 1,000 barrels of condensate, a type of light oil.

The plant is part of Apache’s broader expansion of oil and gas production in Australia.

The company plans to spend around A$1.8 billion in the country in 2012, up from A$1 billion last year, said Tom Maher, Apache’s Australian managing director.

Its big capital projects include funding of a minority stake in Chevron Corp.’s (CVX) US$29 billion Wheatstone gas export project, which was approved for development last year.

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