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Apache Executive: Optimistic About Company's Future In Egypt

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Apache Corp. (APA) said Thursday it has a positive outlook for its operations in Egypt despite the ongoing political struggles in the Arab country. "Our operation has continued [uninterrupted] and supported by government partners as evidenced by the issuance of new...leases," Apache President and Chief Operating Officer Rodney Eichler told analysts in a conference call. "We are optimistic for Apache's future in Egypt." Violence between antimilitary protesters and unknown assailants left at least 11 people dead Wednesday, ramping up tension between Egypt's military leadership and civilian politicians three weeks before the presidential election. Apache Chief Executive Steve Farris, who was also in the conference call, said a recent visit to Egypt left him "with a sense of positive outlook" for the country. "That doesn't mean there isn't going to be bumps though," he added. Apache is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the Western Desert and the third largest in Egypt. Considering that Egypt is experiencing its first democratic elections in 60 years, the transition "has been relatively smooth so far," Farris said. Apache currently has 26 rigs running in Egypt and plans to drill 280 wells this year, the company said. In 2011, the region represented 22% of Apache's total production and 10% of its year-end 2011 estimated proven reserves, according to its website. Separately, Apache's operations in Argentina aren't affected by the recent nationalization of YPF SA (YPF, YPFD.BA), the country's largest national oil company, the company said. "We've had no impact from the recent events involving the Argentine government and YPF," Eichler said. The company "continues to have positive discussions with both federal and provincial authorities to identify and remove constraints to developing new reserves and production." In 2011, Argentina represented 6% of Apache's worldwide production and 4% of its estimated proven reserves at year end. -By Isabel Ordonez, Dow Jones Newswires, Tel 713-314-6090; isabel.ordonez@dowjones.com

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