RAPID CITY, S.D., Dec. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH) announced today that John Benton has been appointed vice president and general manager of Black Hills Exploration & Production, the company's oil and gas subsidiary. In his new role, Benton will focus on strengthening the operational performance of existing assets and developing strategies to increase shareholder value through opportunities associated with the company's Mancos Shale properties in the San Juan and Piceance basins. Benton will replace John Vering, who has served as interim president and general manager of the oil and gas subsidiary since May 2010. Vering also serves on the Black Hills Corp. board of directors and will retain that role. Benton comes to Black Hills from Rex Energy Corp., where he served as vice president, general manager – Rockies division and was responsible for developing the company's Niobrara acreage in Wyoming and Colorado. He has a bachelor's and master's degrees in petroleum engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and held previous leadership positions in other growing oil and gas organizations, including El Paso Exploration & Production Company., Whiting Oil and Gas Corp. and ConocoPhillips during his more-than-30-year career. Benton is also a commissioner on the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. "John will bring the leadership and critical industry experience needed to pursue our strategies at Black Hills Exploration & Production, and we are pleased he is joining our team," said David R. Emery, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Black Hills Corp. "His strong background and business knowledge, in addition to his track record of delivering results, make him a great addition to our organization." Black Hills Corporation Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH) — a diversified energy company with a tradition of exemplary service and a vision to be the energy partner of choice — is based in Rapid City, S.D., with corporate offices in Denver and Papillion, Neb. The company serves 762,000 natural gas and electric utility customers in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The company's non-regulated businesses generate wholesale electricity, produce natural gas, oil and coal, and market energy. Black Hills' 2,100 employees partner to produce results that improve life with energy. More information is available at www.blackhillscorp.com. Black Hills Exploration and Production, Inc. Black Hills Exploration and Production, a subsidiary of Black Hills Corp., operates oil and natural gas producing properties in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming and has non-operated interests in properties producing in California, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. SOURCE Black Hills Corp.