Warburg, Blackstone back Kosmos exploration

Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Capital Partners have backed the launch of a $300m energy exploration and production venture in West Africa.

Kosmos Energy, the newly-launched energy exploration business, has received $300 million (€237 million) in backing from two of the largest private equity firms in the US.

Warburg Pincus and Blackstone have provided the capital, which will fund the acquisition, exploration and development of oil and gas ventures in West Africa. The company has also reached agreement with Pioneer Natural Resources Company to jointly explore an area along the west coast of Africa extending from Morocco in the north through Angola in the south.

Kosmos Energy will explore and develop oil resources offshore along West Africa's Atlantic Margin, a region recognised as one of the world's most promising hydrocarbon provinces. Kosmos will be led by former Triton Energy CEO James Musselman. The Kosmos team has extensive experience in West Africa and was responsible for the discovery and development of the Ceiba Field in Equatorial Guinea.

Kosmos is initially targeting the various prospective hydrocarbon basins offshore from Morocco to South Africa. The company is planning to build an exploration portfolio where it believes there is opportunity to find and develop reserves of meaningful scale, focusing on countries that offer more than 500 million barrels of oil gross resource base potential.

“Jim Musselman and the Kosmos management team have an outstanding track record of exploration success,” said Stephen Schwarzman, president and CEO of The Blackstone Group. “Kosmos is well positioned to benefit from the significant exploration opportunities in the West African offshore region.”

Warburg Pincus, which currently has $5 billion available for investment, has invested approximately $800 million in energy companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production, energy and power projects and oilfield and other services since the late 1980s, acting as lead investor in more than a dozen energy companies.

The Blackstone Group has raised a total of approximately $26 billion for alternative asset investing since its formation in 1985. Over $14 billion of that has been for private equity investing, including Blackstone Capital Partners IV, the $6.45 billion fund closed in July 2002.