Private capital firm TPG Capital is ponying up $1 billion to fund a new venture focused on acquiring and operating conventional natural gas producing properties in North America.

The firm has brought on Dan Allen Hughes Jr. and Thomas M. Hart III to run newly formed Maverick American Natural Gas. Hughes will serve as chairman and Hart will serve as president. “We believe that natural gas will play an important and growing role in satisfying our country’s energy needs over the next decade and beyond,” said Michael MacDougall, a partner at TPG Capital.

Maverick is headquartered in San Antonio, TX.

“Trends in the energy sector have created an opportunity to build a natural gas-focused company through acquisitions,” said Hughes, who is also CEO and president of Dan A. Hughes Co. LP and Hupecol Operating Co. LLC. He has been active in the exploration and production industry for more than 30 years. Hart has been engaged in energy transactional work for almost 20 years. He was a senior corporate development officer for El Paso Corp. for 10 years.

“Maverick is already seeing opportunities to acquire and operate core properties that fit our strategy as other companies divest them to raise capital,” said Hart. “This is unquestionably a challenging period for many gas producers, but Maverick is focused on the long-term opportunity for natural gas.”

Hart told NGI Maverick is “looking at onshore assets across the country, but we do have a slight preference for Texas and the other Gulf Coast states.”

He said other players are beginning to show interest again in conventional oil and liquids plays, but a widespread return to enthusiasm for conventional natural gas will take a while. “…[I]t will eventually happen in natural gas, but it will take some time because the market is currently so oversupplied.”

How long the market continues to favor unconventional gas plays over conventional ones depends a lot on recovery for gas prices, he said. “We’re not smart enough to [predict] that, but once prices have stabilized we think we’ll see renewed interest.

“Maverick really isn’t about shale plays being overhyped. We see a growing role for natural gas in meeting U.S. energy needs, and that is largely due to the success of the shale plays.”

Domestic demand for gas will be stimulated by the price environment and supply certainty, Hart said. “How the demand takes shape is unclear, but that will unfold over the next several years. Some LNG [liquefied natural gas] export certainly makes sense given global LNG pricing, but I think many in the industry would prefer to see increased domestic consumption.”

TPG Capital is the global buyout group of TPG, a private investment firm founded in 1992. TPG’s investments in the energy sector have included Alinta Energy, Beta Renewables, Belden & Blake Corp., Copano Energy (see Daily GPI, July 23, 2010), Delta Dunia, Denbury Resources, Energy Future Holdings (formerly TXU Corp.) (see Daily GPI, Sept. 10, 2007), Greenko, Hong Kong Energy, MI Energy, Northern Tier Energy, Petro Harvester Oil & Gas, Texas Genco and Valerus Compression Services.

About a year ago TPG Capital launched Petro Harvester Oil & Gas LLC to buy North American oil and gas properties (see Daily GPI, Oct. 15, 2010).

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