Apache Names Kitimat CEO in Sign Project May Go Forward

Apache Corp. appointed Rod Eichler to be chief executive officer of Kitimat, a proposed Canadian liquefied natural gas export facility, indicating the project may be moving forward.

“It’s a veiled hint that they are positively inclined this project is going to move forward,” Leo Mariani, an oil and gas analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a phone interview today. “He knows the international markets and has run a lot of international business for them.”

Eichler has been with Apache for 20 years, including the past two years as chief operating officer, the Houston-based company said in a statement today. The appointment was announced as part of a series of executive changes that will be effective Jan. 1. Bill Mintz, an Apache spokesman, declined to comment on whether the project was more likely to go forward. Eichler will ensure the company’s resources are aligned to push to a final investment decision, he said in an e-mail.

The Kitimat project, 50 percent owned by Chevron Corp., would allow for exports of Canadian gas to overseas markets, including Asia. It’s one of several facilities proposed for the Pacific Coast as production in Western Canada has increased. Chevron said last month a final investment decision on the project probably won’t come until 2014.

The Eichler appointment “shows an emphasis on the project,” John Malone, an executive director at Mizuho Securities USA Inc., said in a phone interview. “It’s an encouraging sign that they’re putting someone at that level of the company in charge of the development of the project.”

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