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Apache CEO G. Steven Farris. Image courtesy of Rigzone.

Apache CEO G. Steven Farris abruptly resigned from his post Tuesday with immediate effect after leading the Houston-based company for over 25 years.

Farris, 66, will stay on as a non-executive chairman of the board until May 1, 2015 and then retire.

He joined Apache in 1988 and has served as its chief executive officer since 2002 and as chairman of the board since 2009.

“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,” Farris said.

North American COO and executive vice president John J. Christmann IV will lead the company and immediately join Apache’s board.

Christmann has worked at Apache for 18 years and served in a number of leadership positions.

Director John Lowe, 54, has been elected to succeed Farris as non-executive chairman.

The move surprised analysts and investors with Apache shares sliding about 3 percent after the news was announced.

Farris’ sudden departure suggests there might have been difference of opinion among Apache’s leadership about the company’s strategic direction following a multi-billion dollar divestment plan, Bloomberg said.

Over the past year, Apache sold about $6 billion in international assets and completely exited its liquid natural gas business as it looks to focus on North American onshore plays.

“We have 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,” Farris said.