Now is an opportune time for companies looking to enter the U.S. oil and gas industry, says John Sloan, vice chairman of Dallas investment bank Allegiance Capital Corp. Declining oil prices coupled with stagnant demand are causing trouble for oil drilling operators and their supporting businesses, paving the way for distressed-investment investors and other groups to buy assets on sale. The opportunity should exist for 18 to 24 months, which may be why we have seen private equity firms close funds that are focused exclusively on energy lately. In January, NGP Energy Capital Management closed an energy-focused private equity fund with more than $5.4 billion in commitments, and before that, Five Point Capital Partners closed its inaugural fund, which will also make energy investments, with $450 million in commitments.

Recent oil and gas-related  deals include Omega Capital's purchase of M&M Environmental earlier in January, and Kinder Morgan's $3 billion deal to buy a pipeline network from Hiland Partners, also in January. 

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