Private equity-backed Cobalt signs Angolan JV

Cobalt, which is backed by Riverstone, Goldman Sachs and First Reserve, has tied up with Sonangol, the national oil company of Angola, to let the oil and gas exploration firm access Africa's third largest oil producing nation.

Cobalt International Energy, a private equity-backed oil and gas exploration company, has signed a joint venture with Angola's national oil company Sonangol to open up interests in deep offshore Angola.

Under the joint venture arrangement, Cobalt will assign 25 percent of its interests in its 11 Gulf of Mexico deepwater leases to Sonangol's US arm, while Sonangol will hand over a 40 percent working interest in two blocks offshore Angola.

Angola: oil-rich

Additionally the two operators have agreed a joint participation area in the Gulf of Mexico to pursue future opportunities as well as agreeing to consider further joint offshore Angolan projects.

Cobalt was launched in 2006 with a $500 million investment from Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, Calgary-based private equity firm KERN Partners and Riverstone Holdings, an energy-focused private equity firm launched in 2000 in partnership with The Carlyle Group. The following year Cobalt got a fourth financial sponsor in the form of energy-focused First Reserve Corporation, which invested $350 million in the oil and gas firm.

The Sonangol joint venture will allow buyout-backed Cobalt to tap into the third largest oil producing nation in Africa, according to data from the US government.

The energy sector continues to prove a popular destination for private equity capital. Earlier this month, Pine Brook Road Partners closed a $1.4 billion debut fund to invest in both the energy and financial services sectors.

Cobalt-backers Carlyle and Riverstone Holdings reached the original $6 billion target for their newest energy-focused fund – Riverstone/Carlyle Global Energy & Power Fund IV – in March and decided to extend their fundraising for at least another few months.