FORT WORTH — Two players in the Barnett Shale are joining forces to create one of the largest operations in the North Texas natural gas field.KKR and Riverstone Holdings signed an agreement Wednesday to merge the existing assets of KKR Natural Resources with Legend Production Holdings to create Trinity River Energy. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.Trinity River Energy’s executive offices will be located in Fort Worth and led by Chris Hammack, the current president and chief operating officer at Legend. The company’s finance, accounting and information technology team will be based in Houston.Besides a large natural gas inventory in the Barnett Shale, Trinity will also have oilfield properties in the Permian Basin, East and South Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.James David, a spokesman for Riverstone, declined to comment on the number of acres involved in the merger or how many people Trinity River Energy will employ.Kristi Huller, director of communications for KKR, also declined to comment.Hammack, in a prepared statement, said that “following the combination, Trinity will have an impressive position in the Barnett Shale and a mix of other highly prospective plays.”“We feel confident that our strong financial backing and experienced teams will allow us to build a highly successful company together,” he said.Jonathan Smidt, a member of the private equity giant KKR, said in a statement that this is “an opportunity to create a company with greater scale and significant presence in the Barnett Shale.”Pierre Lapeyre and David Leuschen, co-founders of Riverstone, a private investment firm with about $27 billion of equity capital, released a statement saying they were excited about the “attractive growth potential in the Permian Basin, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.”The merger of the two companies follows a series of sales in the Barnett Shale over the past few years. As the Barnett matures as an energy play, some of the old names are leaving for other parts of the country, such as Appalachia’s Marcellus Shale, where it is more profitable.Devon, Chesapeake Energy and XTO Energy continue to be among the larger operators here, but KKR and Legend have been among the newcomers.KKR Natural Resources, a venture between KKR and Tulsa-based Premier Natural Resources, bought properties in January 2011 in the southern Barnett Shale from ConocoPhillips. It followed that deal in April 2011 when it paid Carrizo Oil & Gas $104 million for properties, and again in April 2012 when it paid WPX Energy $306 million for properties in the Barnett and Oklahoma’s Arkoma Basin.Legend Production Holdings, a private investment partnership, bought most of the Barnett Shale holdings of Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based producer, for $900 million in March 2011.The merger is expected to be completed in the third quarter, pending regulatory approvals. This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Max B. Baker, 817-390-7714 Twitter: @MaxBBaker