The Haynesville Shale basin spans Louisiana and east Texas.

DALLASVine Oil & Gas LP, headquartered here, is teaming up with Blackstone Energy Partners to acquire the Haynesville assets of SWEPI LP and Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc., affiliates of Royal Dutch Shell plc, for $1.2 billion. The assets comprise more than 107,000 net acres in North Louisiana in the core of the Haynesville Shale natural gas shale basin, which spans Louisiana and eastern Texas.

The deal follows similar moves by private equity giants Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital into the natural gas industry, and follows other forays in the energy sector by the Blackstone Group. Vine Oil & Gas was itself formed by Blackstone Energy Partners and funds affiliated with Blackstone, with the intent of becoming a significant, independent shale exploration and production company. 

Vine says it seeks to be the partner of choice, capitalizing on “the team’s unique operational excellence, track record, and capital resources, for companies seeking to accelerate drilling activity and drive production growth, while lowering costs and maintaining a strong HSE track record.” It’s led by president and CEO Eric Marsh, formerly an EVP with Calgary-based energy producer Encana Corp.

“Eric is an incredibly talented operator,” says Angelo Acconcia, a managing director of Blackstone Energy Partners. “He and his team are uniquely situated to contribute significant operational expertise to these assets as well as future opportunities.”

For his part, Marsh says, “We are pleased to acquire and develop a significant, strategic, and top-tier position in the core of the Haynesville Shale, a premier North American unconventional dry gas play located next to multiple growing sources of demand and an area where we have operated extensively before. We are very excited about our partnership with Blackstone Energy Partners, our continued growth and the future partnerships and joint ventures that we might be able to form. “

The Haynesville deal, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Evercore and Kirkland & Ellis advised both Blackstone and Vine Oil & Gas.