Pelican Energy has acquired Container Technologies Industries, a manufacturer of containment solutions for the nuclear industry. Photo via

A Houston-based private equity firm has made a strategic acquisition.

Pelican Energy has acquired Container Technologies Industries from a group of private shareholders. CTI is a manufacturer of containment solutions for the nuclear industry and a certified HUBZone small-business whose customers include the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense and the commercial-nuclear space. Pelican makes investments in energy equipment and serves oil and gas companies and those in the nuclear sectors.

Pelican also named Danielle Castley as president of CTI. Castley has a PhD in material science with a background in radiation shielding material. She comes with over 10 years of experience in the nuclear industry. In addition to the majority buyout of legacy shareholders, Pelican will invest growth capital into business to expand capacity.

"CTI is a great company with a 20+ year track record of expansion,” Mike Scott, the founding partner of Pelican, says in a news release. “The company's highly-experienced team has a reputation of delivering the highest quality containment solutions, including specialty products and industry-standard containers. The business is well positioned to deliver products for growing customer demand."

The Houston company will now work closely with CTI’s homebase in Helenwood, Tennessee.

“We are excited to continue serving the Department of Energy and the thriving commercial nuclear industry,” Castley says in a news release. “I also look forward to leading CTI to innovate in manufacturing to address the emerging needs of advanced reactors.

"CTI will also expand our production capabilities to support Governor Lee's intent of establishing Tennessee as the leader of America's nuclear supply chain," she continues. "CTI is located in Helenwood, an economic development zone, where CTI will be actively recruiting to employ and train the next generation nuclear manufacturing workforce."

Merichem Company has created a new business unit that's been acquired by a private equity firm. Photo via Getty Images

Houston chemical company divests new tech arm to PE

M&A moves

A New Orleans-based private equity firm has announced the acquisition of a Houston chemical company's technology business unit, the business announced today.

Black Bay Energy Capital acquired a portion of Merichem Company’s business — including its Merichem Process Technologies and Merichem Catalyst Products, which will collectively be renamed Merichem Technologies. Merichem's caustic services business, which handles spent caustic for beneficial reuse, will be maintained by the company.

Cyndie Fredrick has been promoted to CEO of Merichem Technologies. She previously served as Merichem's senior vice president and general manager of Merichem Process Technologies. She's joined by CFO Rene Campos, Senior Vice President of Technology Jeff Gomach, and Senior Vice President of Catalysts William Rouleau, who are all former managers within Merichem.

“The Merichem Technologies team has successfully deployed highly engineered and patented technologies, chemical catalysts, and mechanical solutions to various end markets including liquified natural gas, midstream oil and gas, refining of traditional crude and renewable feedstocks, biogas/landfill/RNG production, geothermal energy production, and chemical manufacturing," Fredrick says in a news release. "Merichem Company has been a fantastic steward of this business for decades, and the entire Merichem Technologies team is excited about our new partnership with Black Bay and the ability to pursue new avenues for growth.”

Additionally, Merichem Company's CEO Kendra Lee will join the Merichem Technologies board. Lee's grandfather founded the company in 1945, and she told EnergyCapital last year that she hopes to continue the legacy of the company, which designs and fabricates equipment for sulfur removal.

“Our reputation has always stood on the principles of proven performance, unsurpassed expertise, and an uncommon commitment to our customers," Lee says in the release. "This divesture is a major milestone for Merichem Company as we continue to execute on our strategic vision, further cementing our leadership position in caustic services.”

Black Bay focuses on the energy and specialty chemical sectors, but the Merichem Technologies acquisition brings a new sulfur-treating platform to the firm.

“Sulfur treatment is a critical path item across many industrial applications around the world. Hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, carbon dioxide, and other related impurities must be dealt with to ensure environmental compliance, sustainable operations, and a saleable end product," Tom Ambrose, partner of Black Bay, says in the release.

Ara Partners has announced the closing of its third fund. Photo via Getty Images

Houston energy tech PE group raises $3B third fund

money moves

A Houston-based private equity firm that focuses on industrial decarbonization investments has closed its latest fund.

Ara Partners has secured over $3 billion of new capital commitments for its Ara Fund III, closing $2.8 billion of limited partner commitments, which represents an oversubscription of its $2 billion initial target.

"We are grateful for the extraordinary interest in Fund III demonstrated by Ara's increasingly global, blue-chip investor base," Charles Cherington, managing partner of Ara, says in a news release. "The strong support from new and existing investors, is a testament to their confidence in our talented team, our investment strategy, and the compelling opportunities in the industrial decarbonization sector."

The third fund's institutional investors includes pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and foundations from around the world. Ara Fund III will continue the firm's mission of investing in and buying out decarbonization-aligned industrial companies, specifically targeting ones headquartered in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

"The growing, global presence of Ara's platform and portfolio directly reflects the industrial economy's continued demand for the technological innovation and infrastructure needed to decarbonize," Troy Thacker, managing partner of Ara, says in the release. "The support we have received for Fund III will enable the Ara team to continue investing in high-growth companies globally that are positioned to build value while achieving positive environmental impacts."

The newly closed fund has already made four investments:

  • Vacuumschmelze, a global producer of advanced magnetic materials and rare earth permanent magnets
  • Genera, a sustainable pulp and packaging producer
  • CFP Energy, a provider of market-facing solutions in environmental and green energy products to industrial customers across Europe
  • CycleØ, a fully integrated developer of distributed biomethane facilities

Founded by Cherington and Thacker in 2017, Ara has around $5.6 billion in assets under management. It's previous fund closed in September 2021 at an oversubscribed $1.1 billion.

The deal and financial support will help Saber to expand its services within the energy transition, including the ability to build out renewables and battery resources amid the electrification of the U.S. economy. Photo via Getty Images

Houston company acquired by private equity​ firm, plans to expand support of energy transition


A Houston-based infrastructure services platform has been acquired by an energy industry-focused private equity firm.

Saber Power Services announced last month that it has been acquired by an investor group led by Greenbelt Capital Management from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management. The acquisition was in partnership with funds managed by Schroders Capital, StepStone Group, and Wafra Inc., according to the company's news release.

Saber, founded in 2010, is an electrical services firm that provides design, construction, testing, and maintenance services and solutions across the energy spectrum — renewables, battery storage, utility, industrial, and energy infrastructure markets. The company's customers are located throughout Texas and the Southeast.

“With over a decade of experience, the Saber Power team has demonstrated its ability to provide a safe, reliable and high-performance service offering that excels in complex environments," Brian Bratton, CEO of Saber, says in the release. "We are excited for Saber’s next chapter and believe this investment from Greenbelt demonstrates the market leading position of our business and our customers’ trust in the quality of our work."

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but some of Saber’s management team will maintain ownership of a significant stake in the company, according to the news release. Greenbelt, the acquiring party, secured debt and equity financing from Blackstone Credit.

“We are excited to partner with Greenbelt and look forward to supporting Saber with the next phase of its growth," say Blackstone representatives in the release. "Blackstone Credit invests in market leading energy-transition companies and believes Saber is well-positioned to play an important role in this space.”

The deal and financial support will help Saber to expand its services within the energy transition, including the ability to build out renewables and battery resources amid the electrification of the U.S. economy.

“The energy landscape is rapidly evolving as electrification trends continue to impact commercial and industrial end markets," Sam Graham, principal at Greenbelt, says. "Both physical assets and power markets will need to adapt to support load shifting, bi-directional power flows, and meaningfully increased power demand, all of which require increased grid complexity and strengthens demand for Saber’s specialized engineering, design, construction and maintenance services.”

Chris Murphy, partner at Greenbelt, adds that modernization of the grid is an important sector focus for the company.

"We believe Saber’s end-to-end service platform is critical to facilitate the growing penetration of distributed energy resources across the grid, as well as meet the increasing demands of mass-scale industrial electrification," he says. "We are thrilled to partner with Saber’s experienced and talented executive team and believe our history of investing across the new energy economy will allow us to help accelerate the Company’s growth.”

In M&A news, a decarbonization-focused firm has acquired only producer in the Western Hemisphere of electric-vehicle-grade permanent magnets. Photo via

Houston private equity firm acquires German magnetic materials producer

M&A moves

Houston-based private equity firm Ara Partners has purchased Germany’s Vacuumschmelze (VAC), a producer of magnetic materials for products such as electric vehicles, from funds overseen by asset manager Apollo. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

VAC is the only producer in the Western Hemisphere of electric-vehicle-grade permanent magnets. It also makes magnetic materials for the industrial, aerospace, medical, and renewable energy sectors.

Earlier this year, VAC announced a deal with automotive giant General Motors to build a North American factory for the production of magnets for the electric motors of GM-made EVs. The factory, set to open in 2025, will initially product enough magnets to supply 1 million EVs each year. The magnets will be made of alloys of rare-earth elements.

GM forecasts it will manufacture 1 million EVs per year in North America by 2025.

“We believe the demand for VAC’s differentiated, customized products will continue to grow rapidly as companies around the world decarbonize their industrial processes and the electrification of mobility advances, and we look forward to leveraging our expertise to further enable VAC’s continued success,” Tuan Tran, a partner at Ara Partners, says in a news release.

Ara Partners specializes in investments in the decarbonization sector.

Founded in 1923, VAC was owned by technology conglomerate Siemens for more than 65 years. Ohio’s OM Group acquired VAC in 2011. Four years later, Apollo purchased OM Group for more than $1 billion, putting VAC in the hands of the asset manager.

As of June 30, Ara Partners had about $4.4 billion in assets under management, while Apollo had $617 billion in assets under management.

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ExxonMobil revs up EV pilot in Permian Basin

seeing green

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin |

Energy industry veteran named CEO of Houston hydrogen co.


Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Q&A: CEO of bp-acquired RNG producer on energy sustainability, stability

the view from heti

bp’s Archaea Energy is the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) producer in the U.S., with an industry leading RNG platform and expertise in developing, constructing and operating RNG facilities to capture waste emissions and convert them into low carbon fuel.

Archaea partners with landfill owners, farmers and other facilities to help them transform their feedstock sources into RNG and convert these facilities into renewable energy centers.

Starlee Sykes, Archaea Energy’s CEO, shared more about bp’s acquisition of the company and their vision for the future.

HETI: bp completed its acquisition of Archaea in December 2022. What is the significance of this acquisition for bp, and how does it bolster Archaea’s mission to create sustainability and stability for future generations?  

Starlee Sykes: The acquisition was an important move to accelerate and grow our plans for bp’s bioenergy transition growth engine, one of five strategic transition growth engines. Archaea will not only play a pivotal role in bp’s transition and ambition to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner but is a key part of bp’s plan to increase biogas supply volumes.

HETI: Tell us more about how renewable natural gas is used and why it’s an important component of the energy transition?  

SS: Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a type of biogas generated by decomposing organic material at landfill sites, anaerobic digesters and other waste facilities – and demand for it is growing. Our facilities convert waste emissions into renewable natural gas. RNG is a lower carbon fuel, which according to the EPA can help reduce emissions, improve local air quality, and provide fuel for homes, businesses and transportation. Our process creates a productive use for methane which would otherwise be burned or vented to the atmosphere. And in doing so, we displace traditional fossil fuels from the energy system.

HETI: Archaea recently brought online a first-of-its-kind RNG plant in Medora, Indiana. Can you tell us more about the launch and why it’s such a significant milestone for the company?  

SS:Archaea’s Medora plant came online in October 2023 – it was the first Archaea RNG plant to come online since bp’s acquisition. At Medora, we deployed the Archaea Modular Design (AMD) which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to build our plants. Traditionally, RNG plants have been custom-built, but AMD allows plants to be built on skids with interchangeable components for faster builds.

HETI: Now that the Medora plant is online, what does the future hold? What are some of Archaea’s priorities over the next 12 months and beyond?  

SS: We plan to bring online around 15 RNG plants in each of 2024 and 2025. Archaea has a development pipeline of more than 80 projects that underpin the potential for around five-fold growth in RNG production by 2030.

We will continue to operate around 50 sites across the US – including RNG plants, digesters and landfill gas-to-electric facilities.

And we are looking to the future. For example, at our Assai plant in Pennsylvania, the largest RNG plant in the US, we are in the planning stages to drill a carbon capture sequestration (CCS) appraisal well to determine if carbon dioxide sequestration could be feasible at this site, really demonstrating our commitment to decarbonization and the optionality in value we have across our portfolio.

HETI: bp has had an office in Washington, DC for many years. Can you tell us more about the role that legislation has to play in the energy transition? 

SS: Policy can play a critical role in advancing the energy transition, providing the necessary support to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We actively advocate for such policies through direct lobbying, formal comments and testimony, communications activities and advertising. We also advocate with regulators to help inform their rulemakings, as with the US Environmental Protection Agency to support the finalization of a well-designed electric Renewable Identification Number (eRIN) program.

HETI: Science and innovation are key drivers of the energy transition. In your view, what are some of most exciting innovations supporting the goal to reach net-zero emissions?  

SS: We don’t just talk about innovation in bp, we do it – and have been for many years. This track record gives us confidence in continuing to transform, change and innovate at pace and scale. The Archaea Modular Design is a great example of the type of innovation that bp supports which enables us to pursue our goal of net-zero emissions.

Beyond Archaea, we have engineers and scientists across bp who are working on innovative solutions with the goal of lowering emissions. We believe that we need to invest in lower carbon energy to meet the world’s climate objectives, but we also need to invest in today’s energy system, which is primarily hydrocarbon focused. It’s an ‘and’ not ‘or’ approach, and we need both to be successful.

Learn more about Archaea and the work they are doing in energy transition.


This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit