A recently launched Lower 48-focused energy firm has received a $500 million investment from private equity giant Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LP.


Santa Clarita, CA-based Black Knight Energy LLC was formed earlier this year “to pursue the acquisition and development of large, cash flowing oil and natural gas assets” across the Lower 48, the company said.

Black Knight is led by CEO Todd Stevens, the former CEO of California Resources Corp., the largest exploration and production (E&P) company in the state. Stevens took the helm at California Resources in 2014 after the company spun off from Occidental Petroleum Corp. He left at the end of 2020.

“We have assembled a great team at Black Knight, with a disciplined focus on value creation, operating cash flow and margin enhancement through safe, responsible operations,” Stevens said.

Stevens is joined in the C-suite by two other former California Resources executives: Darren Williams, former executive vice president of operations, and Elizabeth DeStephens, who served as its vice president of reserves and strategic analytics. At Black Knight, Williams serves as COO and DeStephens as chief strategy and sustainability officer.

“The Black Knight team has an exceptional operational and commercial track record having previously managed large-scale operations with a keen focus on environmental stewardship,” said Kayne Anderson’s Mark Teshoian, managing partner. “We are fully confident in Todd and his entire team’s ability to create long-term value for our investors.”

The backing comes amid a hot deals market for U.S. upstream oil and gas assets. Enverus tracked about 40 oil and gas deals with a total value of $33 billion in 2Q2021. On the upstream side, seven E&P transactions during the period were worth more than $1 billion, “the highest quarterly value total since 2Q2019,” according to Enverus. Meanwhile, the number of transactions was tied for the most announced deals valued above $1 billion since 2014.