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Quantum, Former Encana Execs Launch Rockies-Focused E&P

Private equity heavyweight Quantum Energy Partners last week launched Rocky Mountain-focused Middle Fork Energy Partners LLC, co-founded by former Encana Corp. executives.

Denver-based Middle Fork, with initial capital commitments of $200 million-plus, is headed by CEO Christopher L. Valdez and Executive Chairman Jeffrey E. Wojahn.

Valdez most recently served as vice president (VP) of marketing/planning for Vantage Energy LLC, a Quantum portfolio company that was sold last year to Rice Energy Inc. for $2.7 billion. Before heading up Vantage Energy, Valdez was an executive with Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. including as VP, planning and asset manager of the Piceance Basin. Wojahn, with 30 years of experience in the energy industry, was president of Encana's USA unit from 2006 to 2013.

"The Middle Fork team has a deep technical understanding, comprehensive commercial appreciation and a proven operational track record of success in developing assets in the Rockies," Valdez said. "We see great opportunity in partnering with Quantum to acquire and develop assets in this underappreciated region."

Middle Fork's other leadership roles were filled by individuals who have worked with the founders previously, including CFO Ty Harrison, Senior VP-Operations Frank Merendino, VP-Land Worth Carlin and VP-Development Rob Zaback.

"This team has tremendous relationships and execution expertise in the Rockies, an area we believe is ripe for the application of various unconventional technologies," said Quantum CEO Wil VanLoh.

Houston-based Quantum, founded in 1998, partners with entrepreneurs to invest in the oil and gas upstream, midstream, oilfield services and power generation sectors. Currently, Quantum has portfolio companies operating in the United States, Canada, and Europe that are engaged in the energy industry.

Among Quantum’s most recent transactions was one announced in mid-May, in which it paid $765 million to buy out Noble Energy Inc.'s midstream operations in the Appalachian Basin. Sentinel Peak Resources California LLC, also backed by Quantum, last October paid $592 million for Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s onshore California properties. And Quantum portfolio company Vitruvian II Woodford LLC in December sold Gulfport Energy Corp. some properties in Oklahoma's stacked reservoirs for $1.85 billion.

Other Quantum portfolio companies working in the U.S. onshore include Jagged Peak Energy LLC, Midstream Energy Holdings LLC, Oryx Midstream Services LLC and Tug Hill Inc.

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