[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the March 2019 edition of Oil and Gas Investor. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

Just as out of acorns do mighty oaks grow, one phone call can jumpstart a multibillion-dollar E&P business. The phenomenon is certainly at work in the Marcellus and Utica plays, where private-equity leaders such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), EnCap Investments LP, Quantum Energy Partners and The Energy & Minerals Group are backing some of the most growth-oriented E&Ps.

Such was the case for Hardy Murchison, CEO of Encino Energy LLC, which he formed in 2011. The Houston company had made a few smaller acquisitions and reduced costs on those properties. But in June 2017, Encino went bigger, much bigger, forming Encino Acquisition Partners with the CPPIB, which committed up to US$1 billion for doing onshore U.S. deals. Like most observers, Murchison fully expects to see further consolidation in the Appalachian region.

“As our chairman likes to say, acquisition is our middle name,” he said with a laugh. Encino’s executive chairman is legendary company-builder John Pinkerton, previously executive vice president of Snyder Oil Corp. and then chairman, CEO and president of Range Resources Corp., where Murchison once worked as vice president of corporate development.

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