Century Midstream LLC, whose focus primarily will be to develop and expand emerging liquids plays across North America, was launched Wednesday by private equity energy firm First Reserve Corp. and a team of seasoned midstream veterans.

As co-founder, First Reserve is providing an initial infusion into the Houston-based company of up to $500 million.

Joseph A. Blount, former COO of NiSource Inc. affiliate NiSource Midstream & Minerals Group, was named CEO. Blount previously was the operating chief for midstreamer Genesis Energy LP and for Unocal Midstream & Trade.

“We’ve assembled a talented team with strong backgrounds capable of providing reliable solutions for our customers,” said Blount. “Timely and cost-effective build-out of midstream infrastructure is critical to maintaining production schedules in shale plays today.”

Blount is to be joined by former NiSource Midstream executives John Howard as president and COO; Jim Avioli Jr., senior vice president (SVP) of Business Development; and Brian Raber is to be SVP of Engineering.

The four-man team helped NiSource launch, among other things, Pennant Midstream LLC, which provides gas gathering and processing services in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, July 10, 2012).

“Century is a great example of our approach of backing high-quality management teams and building long term sustainable businesses in attractive markets,” said First Reserve’s Tim Day, co-head of Buyout. “We have known Joe for over 10 years and are very excited about the opportunity to work alongside him and his team, who have deep relationships, experience and a history of value creation through organic and acquisitive growth.”

First Reserve is considered one of the largest global private equity firms focused exclusively on energy. Among its North American investments are Crestwood Midstream Partners LP (see Shale Daily, Jan. 9); NFR Energy LLC (see Shale Daily, Dec. 19, 2012); Triangle Petroleum Corp. (see Shale Daily, Dec. 14, 2012); and TPC Group Inc. (see Shale Daily,Aug. 30, 2012).