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.

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