HOUSTON, April 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Apache Corporation (NYSE, Nasdaq: APA) and Mariner Energy (NYSE: ME) today announced that they have entered into a merger agreement that will combine Apache's global reach and resources with Mariner's track record of successful deepwater exploration and its resource potential. "This is a strategic step and a natural extension into the deepwater Gulf for Apache," said G. Steven Farris, Apache's chairman and chief executive officer. "Mariner provides an exciting new platform for growth in the deepwater and complements our strengths in the Gulf Shelf and the Permian Basin. Based on our experience working with the Mariner team, we also believe the two companies will make an excellent cultural fit." "The combination with Apache is an excellent outcome for Mariner's stakeholders. Our shareholders will be rewarded for their faith and support in our company with the opportunity to further benefit from the upside provided from the merger. Our partners will work with a world-class company with the financial and technical resources to fully exploit our assets. Our employees will benefit from the opportunities provided in a large company with values similar to Mariner's," said Scott D. Josey, Mariner's chairman, chief executive officer and president. Under the agreement, Mariner shareholders will receive, in aggregate, 0.17043 of a share of Apache common stock and $7.80 in cash for each outstanding share of Mariner's common stock, subject to an election feature and proration. At Apache's closing stock price of $108.06 on April 14, 2010, the transaction values Mariner's shares at $26.22 per share or approximately $2.7 billion. Apache also will assume $1.2 billion in debt. In February, Mariner produced 63,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day from the Gulf Shelf and deepwater, the Permian Basin and unconventional onshore plays. At year-end 2009, Mariner had estimated proved reserves of 181 million boe (47 percent liquid hydrocarbons) as well as unbooked resource potential of 2 billion boe.