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Texas Oil Companies Expanding

In what is hopefully a sign of a healthy Texas oil and gas industry, as well as good news for Texas mineral owners, Apache Corporation (the subject of a recent post) has not only renewed its lease of 365,000 square feet at its Post Oak Central office building, but has also leased another 132,000 square feet of space. This represents a 36 percent office space increase, bringing Apache’s total square footage to 467,000. The company also extended its current lease term to 2018, a five year add-on to their agreement, which was set to expire at the end of this year. The Houston office complex is owned by JP Morgan and is distinct for its three 24 story glass and steel towers.

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Apache’s move to expand its operations was likely prompted by the company’s healthy profit margins. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Apache’s fourth quarter earnings were up 73 percent as the company benefited from high oil prices and increased production. Apache’s fourth quarter profit was $1.9 billion, or $2.98 a share. That is a substantial increase over their $689 million profit and $1.77 share price from 2011. Chief Executive G. Steven Farris said the company expected to spend $9.5 billion on drilling capital this year, up from $8 billion in 2011. Revenue also increased for the company by about 25 percent to $4.3 billion. Apache’s global production was up by 4.2 percent from a year earlier and average prices went up 24 percent for oil and nearly 3 percent for natural gas. These reports on Apache’s success are good news for the Texas energy industry and a benefit to Houston, the company’s headquarters.

This comes on the heels of other big real estate transactions in Houston, a city fortunate to be at the center of the oil and gas industry’s resurgence. In January, Noble Energy signed a lease for 467,000 ft2 of office space at the former headquarters of Hewlett Packard, taking over the northwest Houston building in its entirety. The 10 story building opened in 1998 as the headquarters for Compaq Computer Corporation. The building was one of Houston’s largest vacant office buildings and Noble’s lease is helping bring the city’s vacancy numbers down significantly-showing once again how a robust and profitable energy industry can help the economy as a whole.

In December, Shell Oil renewed its 1.2 million ft2 office lease at One Shell Plaza and Two Shell Plaza in downtown Houston. Shell’s Houston lease was the biggest lease signed in the United States in 2011. Last year, 1.8 million square feet of office space was occupied in Houston and that number is expected to be the same or greater this year, spurring new construction for the first time in years.

This energy boom is rippling across Houston’s economy and not just in real estate circles. Houston is the first major metropolitan area in the US to regain all the jobs lost during the recent recession. The region added 76,000 jobs last year according to the Texas Workforce Commission and is on track to create tens of thousands of more jobs this year, almost entirely thanks to the profitable and growing energy industry.

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