JAN, 10, 2019
The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) has named Peter A. Ragauss, a member of Apache Corporation’s board of directors, to its Directorship 100 list.
The annual award honors company directors and corporate governance professionals, who distinguish themselves by demonstrating integrity, mature confidence, informed judgment and the highest standards in their board work.
Ragauss, 61, joined Apache’s board four years ago after a long and distinguished career in the energy business. He walked into the company’s Houston headquarters for his first board meeting in December 2014, just as the Apache board was taking up its search to replace retiring CEO Steve Farris. Ragauss, who helped vet the candidates, says he was immediately impressed by his new colleagues.
“They handled that succession extremely well and very efficiently,” Ragauss said. “It was a wonderful thing to witness early on – how all sides were happy with the way that turned out.”
A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Ragauss earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University and his MBA from Harvard Business School. In between the two university stints, he worked for three years in Montreal for a manufacturer of specialty steel products for the mining industry as sales engineer.
After graduating from Harvard, Ragauss joined Kidder, Peabody & Co., then owned by General Electric Co., as a New York-based investment banker. Kidder had a strong energy practice, but no Houston office. In 1990, Ragauss helped open one.
In 1996, Ragauss joined El Paso Energy International as vice president of finance. He applied himself to the finance side of the energy business ever since in positions of increasing responsibility that exposed him to every end of the business – from upstream to midstream to downstream to oil field services.
Jobs at Amoco, where he was vice president of finance and portfolio management, and BP, where he was controller of the oil giant’s global downstream business, led to Baker Hughes, where Ragauss served as chief financial officer for eight years and helped the company restore its reputation – and restructure its financial systems and controls – after it ran afoul of U.S. regulators.
The experience imbued him with “a real passion for strong financial controls,” Ragauss says. So, it’s no surprise that one of the priorities he brings to his role as a board member at Apache – and as a member of the company’s audit committee – is “making sure the financial system and controls and policies are world class.”
Ragauss, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Latvia after World War II, is proud of his Baltic heritage and is a strong promoter of U.S. ties with the region. He speaks Latvian, visits Latvia frequently and is a member of the board of directors of the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation. In 2017, he was named Honorary Consul to the Republic of Latvia for the State of Texas. This fall, he ran an official polling station in Houston, where more than two dozen Latvians living in Texas cast their ballots in the country’s 13th parliamentary elections.
Although many Americans might find it hard to locate the Baltic countries on a map (hint: they border Russia and all have coastlines on the Baltic Sea), Ragauss says they are strongholds of democracy and free markets that deserve the close ties they’ve developed with the United States.
“It’s a tough neighborhood,” he says, “and Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are the best friends America has in all of Europe.”
Ragauss, who joined Apache’s board during a commodity price slump that humbled so many other operators, believes Apache’s discipline during the downturn – its decision to hit the reset button and focus on making money at the drill bit without cutting its dividend or raising more equity – has created huge prospects for the future.
“We’ve got the Alpine High discovery,” he said. “We’ve got more prospects in Egypt than we’ve ever had. We have plenty of good prospects in the North Sea, plus we’ve updated our seismic portfolio and that’s allowing us to find more exploration prospects. So, we have no shortage of value-creating opportunities now despite having gone through a period of cash flow discipline. And, that’s a very powerful combination – to come out of lean years with an even bigger exploration portfolio than when you started. It’s really awesome to have played a role in that.”
Ragauss also serves on the boards of directors of The Williams Companies and the Alley Theatre in Houston.