Independent research firm IHS Herold Inc. has provided OGFJ with updated production data for our periodic ranking of US-based private E&P companies. The rankings provided by IHS are based on operated production only within the United States.
One of the most notable omissions from the Top 10 listing in this installment is that of San Antonio, TX-based Lewis Energy. The company was removed because its operations outside the US made it ineligible for the listing based on IHS's criteria.
Another noteworthy mention is the uptick of GeoSouthern Energy Corp. from its previous spot at No. 9 to its current No. 3 position. LLOG Exploration moved back into the Top 10 as it moved three spots from its previous No. 13 slot, while Walter Oil & Gas Corp. dropped into the No. 9 spot following its seat at No. 5 in the July issue.
On August 23, Midland, TX-based Tall City Exploration LLC announced its $200 million equity commitment from Denham Capital, an energy and resources-focused global private equity firm. The capital will be used to pursue acquisition, exploration and development of oil and gas assets with a specific focus on upstream unconventional activities in the Permian Basin of West Texas.
Led by CEO Mike Oestmann and president Joe Magoto, Tall City Exploration was founded earlier this year and has already leased approximately 5,000 net acres in the Permian Basin. The company is engaged in discussions with potential partners to increase its opportunity base and plans to begin drilling in spring 2013.
"We believe the unconventional opportunity set in the Permian Basin is only beginning to be exploited. Our team's on-the-ground experience and local relationships within the Basin will help Tall City build and realize a set of unconventional assets to the benefit of our all our stakeholders," said Oestmann in a prepared statement.
In addition to the $200 million commitment from Denham Capital, the company recently raised an additional $5 million from Henry Resources and Tall City Strategic Partners —a group of company employees and local oil and gas investors from Midland.
Also in August, private equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC invested an undisclosed amount to Three Rivers Natural Resource Holdings II LLC, a new private upstream oil and gas company based in Austin, Texas. The funds will be used to acquire certain assets located in the Permian Basin of West Texas from Meritage Energy Company LLC.
The properties include 15,000 net acres with current production of approximately 1,900 barrels of oil equivalent per day located in Howard, Glasscock, Martin, Dawson and Upton Counties, Texas.
Most recently, the management team led Three Rivers Natural Resource Holdings LLC, which sold its assets to an affiliate of Concho Resources Inc. earlier this year for approximately $1 billion.
Founded in 2010, Meritage Energy Company LLC is the third company built and sold over a 10 year period by Thomas J. Corley and Sam D. Winegrad, with the support and backing of various institutional and private investors. The sale of this asset base follows its 2010 sale of Wolfberry assets in the Permian Basin.
In July, Petro Harvester Oil & Gas LLC, an oil-focused exploration and production company formed by private investment firm TPG to acquire and develop producing assets in North America, named William M. Griffin as president and CEO.
Petro Harvester has completed three asset acquisitions to date, the most recent in February 2012, in which the company acquired long-life oil properties located in Mississippi and Louisiana from Denbury Onshore LLC, a subsidiary of Denbury Resources Inc. In 2011 Petro Harvester acquired oil properties in the Williston Basin of North Dakota, and in 2010 the company purchased producing oil properties in Mississippi from Comstock Resources Inc.
Griffin has over 31 years of US onshore and offshore oil and gas experience. Most recently he was president of Ironwood Oil & Gas LLC which he helped found in 2008. Prior to Ironwood, he served at El Paso Exploration & Production Co. as senior vice president of the Onshore Division. Griffin started his career at TXO Production Corp. after graduating from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.
One fairly large exploration and production company that may soon officially enter the private company space is Venoco Inc. On September 14, the Denver, Co-based company's Board of Directors agreed to extend the date by which committed financing must be obtained for the merger contemplated by the merger agreement among Venoco, Timothy Marquez, Denver Parent Corp. (DCP) and another affiliate of Marquez to October 5. The end date was extended to October 8, 2012. No word on the outcome as of this writing.
The independent energy company with substantial holdings in California's oily Monterey Shale, announced the definitive merger agreement under which Timothy M. Marquez, Venoco's former chairman and CEO, who controls 50.3% of Venoco's common stock, would acquire Venoco through DPC in January of this year.