New York-based investment management firm Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO), along with private-equity firm Riverstone Holdings LLC and Access Industries Inc., have completed the acquisition of all of the oil and gas E&P assets of El Paso Corp., Houston, (NYSE: EP) for approximately $7.15 billion.

The deal was in advance of midstream giant Kinder Morgan Inc.'s acquisition of El Paso for $38 billion, announced in October and at which time Kinder Morgan announced its intent to divest the E&P assets out of that deal to offset the debt portion of that acquisition. The Apollo transaction was subject to the closing of the merger between Kinder Morgan and El Paso, which closed May 24.

Apollo Global Management senior managing director Josh Harris says, “Apollo is acquiring a company with an impressive portfolio of valuable natural resource assets, a talented management team and a remarkable group of highly skilled employees. We look forward to building on El Paso’s impressive track record of success in partnership with Apollo’s natural resources expertise.”

El Paso’s upstream assets are centralized in four divisions. The southern division includes U.S. properties with 75,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford shale, 138,000 acres in the Permian Basin Wolfcamp shale, and portions of its Gulf of Mexico and South Texas assets. The central division includes the Haynesville shale, 140,000 acres in the South Louisiana Wilcox oil play, and assets in East Texas and northern Louisiana plus shallow unconventional programs.

The western division includes an active drilling program in the Altamont and in the Raton Basin and the Rockies. The company’s international division includes operations in the Camamu, Espirito Santo and Potiguar basins offshore Brazil, and in two blocks primarily onshore in Egypt’s Western Desert.

Average production in 2010 was 782 million cubic feet of gas equivalent per day. Proved reserves as of year-end 2010 were 3.4 trillion cubic feet equivalent. This includes 48.8% interest in Four Star Oil & Gas Co. Net risked resource potential is 8 trillion cubic feet equivalent with 3,260 drilling locations in its core operations (48% oil). Production at the end of the third quarter was 823 MMcfe per day.

During the first quarter of 2012, the company’s production volumes rose 11% and its oil and condensate production rose 66% from the same period last year.

Kinder Morgan chairman and chief executive Richard D. Kinder says, “We are pleased that this pending sale will allow the El Paso exploration and production assets to be kept intact as a single entity.” The company had considered selling El Paso's E&P interests in pieces.

“We are excited about our partnership with Apollo, Riverstone, and our other investors, which we believe will enhance the value of EP Energy and extend our performance track record,” says EP Energy president and chief executive Brent Smolik. “We will continue to focus on large acreage positions with low-risk, repeatable drilling opportunities that generate strong financial returns. By partnering with investors who are clearly aligned with this strategy and committed to our success, we believe EP Energy will continue to profitably find and produce the oil and natural gas that fuels our economy.”

Apollo partner Sam Oh says, “Our acquisition of EP Energy solidifies Apollo’s natural resources platform and the firm’s commitment to the North American energy sector.”

EP Energy will remain headquartered in Houston.