AUSTRALIAN onshore specialist Senex Energy Limited has secured a major US backer for its plans to fast track its flagship Western Surat Gas Project.

Specialist energy investor EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG) will become a substantial shareholder in Senex with approximately 12% of the expanded Senex issued capital following completion of an Institutional Placement and Share Purchase Plan.

Senex has already conducted an approximately A$55 million raising via a placement to certain EIG-managed funds and other institutional investors.

Senex managing director and CEO Ian Davies said that the transactions would provide his company with the strength and momentum to develop and expand its significant upstream positions in both the Surat and Cooper Basins, to address substantial opportunities in the east coast gas market.

“We know the Western Surat Gas Project is a great asset, given our understanding of the subsurface and our ability to operate safely and at low cost. EIG is a respected global energy investor and their support shows they also see the opportunity for Senex to build a significant east coast gas business,” he said.

EIG CEO Blair Thomas said EIG has been an early investor in coal seam gas in Queensland since the late 1990’s, and the company believes now is the opportune time to develop these assets.

“Senex has the right people to develop the project and in long-term partnership with EIG we believe the company will build a tier-one asset,” Mr Thomas added.

The Western Surat Gas Project (the Project) involves the extraction of natural gas from coal seams over approximately 915 square kilometres of Senex permits, north of Roma in Queensland.

Senex brought its first appraisal wells online at the end of 2016 as part of its pilot program. The company is progressing full field development planning in parallel with regulatory approvals, native title and land access activities.

Washington headquartered EIG Global Energy Partners (“EIG”) specialises in private investments in energy and energy-related infrastructure on a global basis and had US$14.3 billion under management as of September 30, 2016. Since 1982, EIG has invested more than US$23 billion in more than 310 portfolio investments in 36 countries.