Blackstone launches oil and gas investment platform

Clarion Offshore Partners will provide growth and opportunistic capital, finance special situations, as well as strategic support and asset management to assets and companies in the oil and gas drilling and services sector.

Blackstone has formed Clarion Offshore Partners, which will invest in assets in the offshore oil and gas drilling and services sector, the firm said.

Clarion is backed by Blackstone’s private equity funds and has a broad mandate to seek offshore drilling companies, shipyards, financial institutions, investors and oil and gas operators, the firm said.

It will provide growth capital to fund market expansion and consolidation opportunities and opportunistic capital to acquire assets and/or debt, as well as equity securities, held by existing offshore drilling enterprises.

The platform will finance special situations to help balance sheet restructuring, and provide strategic support and asset management to companies, joint ventures and fleet operations, according to its website.

This partnership comes at a time when slumping oil prices have spooked markets and caused concerns for returns in oil and energy-sector portfolios in private equity. At press time, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil had opened for the day with a 3.46 percent drop to $26.50, nearing a 12-year low.

Clarion co-founder and chairman Louis Raspino will lead the four-person team that was previously part of the executive team at offshore oil drilling company Pride International.

“Balance sheets are under severe pressure, existing operators are challenged to deploy assets, and related parties throughout the value chain are also facing financial pressures,” Raspino said. “This is an opportune time in the industry for a well-capitalised and experienced team to provide creative financing and operational solutions.”

Clarion is based in Houston, Texas.

Blackstone manages over $330 billion in assets.