Several veteran E&P chiefs are getting back into the buy-low/exit-high game, and capital sources are loading up to fund these and other new ventures.

Gary Evans surprised fellow independents recently as he took the helm of small-cap Petro Resources Corp., renaming it Magnum Hunter Resources Corp., and signing up former WestLB and CIBC banker Ron Ormand as chief financial officer, and former investor-relations chief and research analyst Brad Davis as senior vice president, capital markets.

Evans sold his Magnum Hunter Resources Inc. in 2005 to Cimarex Energy Co., and has been building his alternative-energy GreenHunter Energy Inc. these past few years. Evans says he plans to significantly expand the former Petro Resources’ E&P portfolio.

Meanwhile, Dick Frazier, Earl Krieg and other founders of Keystone Petroleum LLC, Dallas, have launched Keystone Petroleum II LP with initial capitalization of $50 million from former Keystone I investors, New York-based E&P-focused private-equity fund Energy Trust Partners III LP, Dallas-based Energy Spectrum Capital and management. Keystone I was focused on the Wolfberry play in West Texas; this time, the team will focus on southeastern New Mexico.

-- Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is putting $350 million into privately held East Resources Inc., which holds some 900,000 acres in the Marcellus play and is led by president Terrence Pegula. Henry Harmon’s Appalachia-focused Triana Energy Investments LLC has received funding from Morgan Stanley Private Equity, which had backed his Appalachia-focused Triana Energy in 2001 that was sold for $2.2 billion to Chesapeake Energy Corp. in 2005.

-- Randy Foutch’s Tulsa-based Laredo Petroleum Inc. has taken its bank line up $130 million to $180 million, and already has a $600-million line of equity from Warburg Pincus. Ted Kronfeld and team at Plymouth Resources Inc. in Tulsa have formed Midcontinent-focused Plymouth Exploration LLC with a $50-million commitment from Kayne Anderson Energy Funds.

-- Boulder, Colorado-based Ellora Energy Inc. has filed an S-1 to relaunch its 2007 plan to IPO, aiming to raise up to $100 million.

-- Quantum Energy Partners-funded Native American Resource Partners has secured exploration rights on Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck native American reservation in northeastern Montana, forming joint venture Fort Peck Energy Co.

-- And, with $1.2 billion of assets under management already, Black Stone Minerals Co. LP, Houston, has raised $158 million to invest in fee minerals and royalty properties.

Meanwhile, capital sources are raising funds—and staff—to fire at their current and prospective portfolio companies’ upcoming low-acquisition-price restart opportunities.

-- Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LP has closed its new fund at $820 million to invest in early- to mid-stage North American producers. Some has already been invested in Doug Brooks’ Natural Gas Partners-funded Compass Resources Operating LLC and its 21,000-acre Austin Chalk project in Texas

-- First Reserve Corp. has closed First Reserve Fund XII LP with $9 billion. Pine Brook Road Partners LLC has closed its first fund with total capital commitments of more than $1.4 billion. New York-based Deerpath Capital Management LP has launched E&P debt and equity investing of $2- to $20 million.

-- Peter Coneway has joined Riverstone Holdings LLC as a managing director; he was the founder of Goldman Sachs’ Houston office. Lehman Brothers’ Jack Lentz has joined Lazard Ltd. as chairman of its international oil and gas practice; he led Lehman’s worldwide energy practice. Merrill Lynch’s Rob Pacha has joined boutique I-banker Evercore Partners Inc.; Evercore co-founder Roger Altman is a former The Blackstone Group vice chairman.

-- Energy Capital Solutions LP managing directors Keith Behrens, Ron Montalbano and Brad Nelson have launched Stephens Inc.'s new energy I-banking practice. Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC managing directors and Mariner Holdings LLC plan to buy out Tortoise from current investors, including Kansas City Equity Partners.

-- Newfield Exploration founder Joe Foster’s private-equity fund TPH Partners LP has formed E&P financier BlueRock Energy Capital II LLC with Cathy Sliva’s BlueRock Energy Capital team.

-- Macquarie Group is buying George Gosbee’s Tristone Capital Global Inc., and has signed onto its roster Bank of America Securities’ Doug Reynolds, Citigroup’s Ken Brandes and Morgan Stanley’s Steve Conner.

-- And, Henry Groppe’s Groppe, Long & Littell and Toronto-based Middlefield Capital Corp. plan to IPO Groppe-Middlefield Energy Fund.

The smart money is wagering on energy.

Note: Alerts of start-ups, new capital sources and other breaking news important to U.S. E&P decision-makers and financiers are available in real time at

–Nissa Darbonne (, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch, Oil and Gas Investor This Week, Today,,,