The key is that the cost of oilfield services that drillers rely on have roughly halved during the downturn, Evans said. Energy Hunter will focus on picking up assets with multiple pay zones, or stacked layers that can be drilled horizontally.
Further, Evans is seeking opportunities not in the billion-dollar deals market watchers have been waiting on, but in highly selective acquisitions. He said striking those deals requires close relationships with a network of landmen, the boots-on-the-ground professionals who broker sales with landowners.
"This is not going into data rooms. This is needle in a haystack," he said.
Energy industry deals worth $50 million or more declined in the first quarter from a year ago, as would-be acquirers remained locked out of capital markets and others saw little they wanted to buy, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Evans bought his first energy company in a $1.2 million leveraged buyout in 1985 and sold it to Cimarex Energy 20 years later for $2.2 billion.