President and chief executive officer of Apache Corporation Steven Farris announced his retirement effective January 20, 2015. The abrupt announcement was also an opportunity for Farris to name John Christmann, chief operating officer of North America, as his successor.
Mr. Farris joined Apache Corp over 25 years ago in 1988 and has served as its chief executive officer since 2002. He served as the chairman of the board since 2009. In February 2014, Mr. Farris also assumed the title of president. He functioned within the company as president and chief operating officer from 1994 to 2009, as senior vice president from 1991 to 1994 and as vice president of exploration and production from 1998 to 1991. In a press release issued by the company on Tuesday, Farris’ fate within Apache was detailed.
It has been a privilege to lead one of the top independent oil and gas producers and work alongside some of the best professionals in the business,” Mr. Farris said. “After more than 25 years with the company and 14 years as CEO, it is time to hand over the reins to a new generation of leaders. I look forward to working with John, the board and the management team over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition.”
Mr. Farris stated that currently, Apache Corp has “a deeper inventory of North American opportunities than at any other time in our history, and I am confident the company is now well positioned to achieve its goal of becoming the premiere North American resource company.” He gave praise to the strategic acquisitions and divestments including the recently announced exit of its LNG businesses. According to a recent Reuters article, the company, under pressure from activist-investor Jana Partners, in December agreed to sell stakes in two liquefied natural gas developments, Wheatstone in Australia and Kitimat in Canada, for $2.75 billion to Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s top oil and gas producer.
Farris added in his comments that John Christmann is the ideal person to lead Apache going forward. Nonetheless, Christmann is taking over the company at a time of low oil price uncertainty, meaning big decisions on his behalf about whether to sale or trade its international operations to focus on North American shale plays. Additionally, Apache still lacks a full-time chief financial officer after Alfonso Leon resigned from the position in October, eight months after he was appointed to the job.
This is the second major step-down reported from a company this month. Last week, President of Houston-based oil and gas asset company Swift Energy Co. Bruce Vincent officially resigned in the midst of the company slashing their budget by 75 percent due to low crude oil prices.