Benjamin Dell


Editor's note: This profile is part of Hart Energy's 50th anniversary Hall of Fame series honoring industry pioneers of the past 50 years and the Agents of Change (ACEs) who are leading the energy sector into the future.

Benjamin Dell

For someone who has made such an impact on the energy sector, Benjamin Dell has an unusual perspectve on his co-founding the private equity firm Kimmeridge.

“If I’d known what I’d know now, I’m not sure I would’ve started,” Dell told Hart Energy. “If I’d known the wild ride that raising private equity capital and energy was going to be in the last 10 years and the volatility in the space, I probably wouldn’t have started.”

Private equity may be a wild ride, but the ride has been upward for Kimmeridge, which started with just $40 million, according to Dell, and currently has $4.78 billion assets under management, according to PitchBook.

Part of Dell’s leadership style is a sense of openness. The company’s research is shared in white papers available on the Kimmeridge website and everyone, including, Dell, works in an open-concept workspace without private offices.

“It’s very flat,” Dell said. “Everybody knows everything that’s going on. I mean, we built this firm together. We have very low turnover.… It’s really about building a culture of collaboration, integration, and it’s about performance. Nobody’s above anyone else.… I’m not a believer about shutting doors or private conversations. I sit in the middle of the floor along with everyone else.”

Stephen Ellis, an energy utilities strategist for Morningstar Research Services, said the Kimmeridge white papers can be significant, such as Dell’s papers arguing years in advance that publically traded E&Ps should aggressively return capital to investors.

“He’s not afraid to be outspoken on industry issues that public CEOs, public oil and gas CEOs, might be quiet on,” Ellis said.

Dell has focused heavily on the Denver-Julesburg (D-J) Basin which expands over the borders of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Ellis noted that Dell, who has two degrees in earth sciences from St. Peter’s College at the University of Oxford, has “made more of an effort to gather a much wider data set on the geology side to make that investment.”

Kimmeridge’s D-J Basin focus includes backing Civitas Resources, a Colorado-based company pursuing D-J consolidation. 

Dell was briefly serving as interim Civitas CEO when he engaged a skeptical job candidate Chris Doyle in conversation 2022. Doyle said he interviewed for the position, unsure if he was the right match for the job. That changed when he talked to Dell, who liked to engage in ideas.

“He wants somebody to really debate with him, but I’m thinking, ‘This is either going to go well, and I’ll be in Denver meeting with the board in person within a couple of weeks, or this is [the end of] it,’” Doyle said.

With that in mind, Doyle said he decided to bluntly lay out what he thought company leadership should do. Dell responded, “That’s exactly what I think they should do.”

“I’ve told people if it wasn’t for Ben Dell—and this is 100% the case—if it wasn't for Ben Dell, I would not have taken the Civitas role,” Doyle said. 

—Patrick McGee, Senior Editor, Finance

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