Cobalt International Energy LP claimed another investor for its young exploration company with the announcement Friday that First Reserve Corp. has joined its investor group with a $350 million commitment.

First Reserve joins Goldman Sachs, Riverstone Holdings, KERN Partners and Cobalt management in its investment (see Daily GPI, Dec. 2, 2005). Cobalt was founded by former Unocal Corp. and BP plc executives, and it has been focused on oil and gas exploration in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and West Africa.

Cobalt CEO Joseph H. Bryant said the commitment by First Energy offered “a strong vote of confidence” in his company’s management and business model.

“In its first two years of existence, Cobalt has assembled a world-class team of scientists, technical professionals and managers, said First Reserve CEO William E. Macaulay. “Pairing their expertise with the latest geophysical data, tools and processes, the team has captured a set of deepwater assets to rival that of most super-independents and some of the major oil companies. As partner to Cobalt’s managers and investors, we expect to draw on our 25 years’ experience in E&P [exploration and production] investing to help the company achieve its goals.”

In October Cobalt captured 53 deepwater leases in the Minerals Management Service’s Central GOM Lease Sale 205, placing it third in the industry’s largest offshore leasehold auction in 24 years (see Daily GPI, Oct. 9). The company submitted $211 million in high bids and won 13 blocks. Assuming all blocks are awarded, Cobalt will own a total of 107 blocks, 69 of which are Cobalt-operated. The company said the GOM acreage inventory “is sufficient to feed the company’s exploration plan for the next five years.”

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