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Apache Has High Hopes for New Oil-Field Discovery in Texas

An Apache worker at a drilling rig in the Permian Basin last year. The company...

Apache Corp. APA 0.74 % says it has discovered the equivalent of at least two billion barrels of oil in a new west Texas field that has the promise to become one of the biggest energy finds of the past decade.

The discovery, which Apache is calling “Alpine High,” is in an area near the Davis Mountains that had been overlooked by geologists and engineers, who believed it would be a poor fit for hydraulic fracturing. It could be worth $8 billion by conservative estimates, or even 10 times more, according to the company.

Apache started acquiring mineral rights in the area two years ago and subsequently discovered its potential. The company then quietly went about locking up more land in the field, believed to be up to 450,000 acres overall. Its position now exceeds 300,000 acres, or roughly two-thirds of the field, and is about 20 times the size of Manhattan.

The company has begun drilling in the area and says the early wells, which produce more natural gas than oil, are capable of providing at least a 30% profit margin at today’s prices, including all costs associated with drilling. Some are so prolific that they can break even at a price of 10 cents per million British thermal units, according to the company. Natural gas futures closed Tuesday at $2.72.

“This is a giant onion that is going to take us years to unveil and peel back,” Apache Chief Executive John Christmann IV said in an interview. “The industry dogma about this area, all the fundamental premises that most people had about it, were just...


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