Newly formed oil and gas explorer Avad Energy Partners LLC has raised $77.5 million in equity commitments to acquire and develop conventional U.S. properties, the Dallas-based operator said Thursday.

The lead investor is Pearl Energy Investments, also based in Dallas, which was formed in 2015 to acquire assets in North American upstream, midstream and oilfield services sectors. Natural Gas Partners (NGP), through affiliate NGP Natural Resources XI LP, also are investors, as is Avad's management.

"As a team that has worked together for most of our careers, we believe our acquisition and development expertise along with our strong equity backing will enable us to create value in this current market environment,” said CEO John Davis. “The ability to structure creative deals and leverage our technical knowledge are key to optimizing value with conventional assets today."

Davis, Tom Quigley and Crystal Blackstone launched Avad last year. Davis previously ran Alpine Gas Co. LLC, which he co-founded in 2003. Alpine was formed to acquire and develop assets primarily in Louisiana's state waters, in the deep salt basin of Mississippi and the eastern shelf of Texas.

Davis previously was vice president and technical adviser at Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. (NSAI) and had been a senior engineer for Exxon Co. USA. Quigley, senior vice president, will run acquisition, evaluation and development efforts. He also worked at Alpine, NSAI and Exxon, as well as Hunt Petroleum Corp. and Encana Oil and Gas USA Inc. Blackstone, vice president, previously was an analyst at Alpine, NSAI and Hunt.

"With the Avad team's strong historical track record, technical skillset and industry relationships, we believe the company is well positioned to capitalize on the current market environment," said Pearl Managing Partner Billy Quinn.

Quinn, formerly a managing partner of NGP, co-founded Pearl in 2015 with Chris Aulds, who co-founded Teak Midstream LLC and Crosstex Energy Services; Crosstex now is part of Devon Energy Corp.-controlled EnLink Midstream. Pearl targets "small to middle market investment opportunities with equity capital requirements" of $25-75 million.

Pearl, together with NGP, also has invested in U.S. onshore explorers Teal Natural Resources LLC and Colgate Energy LLC.