ARKANSAS, Oct 5 (Future Headlines)- In a significant development in the energy sector, private equity firm SK Capital Partners has acquired Milestone Environmental Services, a U.S.-based oilfield waste services company, from Amberjack Capital Partners. While the financial details of the transaction remain undisclosed, this acquisition carries profound implications for the evolving landscape of greenhouse gas reduction schemes and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the energy industry.

Milestone Environmental Services, under the leadership of CEO Gabriel Rio, sees permanent carbon storage as a natural extension of its core business in oil waste disposal, primarily in the top U.S. shale fields. This strategic alignment reflects the growing emphasis on sustainability and carbon management within the energy sector. Carbon capture and disposal are increasingly viewed as viable revenue streams, potentially matching or surpassing revenues from traditional oilfield waste services.

The company has ambitious plans to embark on two carbon dioxide (CO2) storage projects in the Permian Basin, a prominent U.S. shale oilfield known for its significant oil and gas production. Milestone’s first project is slated to commence CO2 injection as early as 2025, with the capacity to store a substantial 2.5 million tons of carbon annually. This move underscores the company’s commitment to sustainability and aligns with global efforts to combat climate change by securely storing carbon emissions.

Milestone Environmental Services is set to face formidable competition from industry giants like Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum, and Chevron, all of which are actively developing carbon storage projects in Texas and Louisiana. However, Milestone’s unique value proposition lies in its established relationships with oil and gas producers and its extensive experience in wastewater disposal well management. This expertise positions the company favorably, assuaging concerns about its size compared to industry giants.

CEO Gabriel Rio emphasized Milestone’s in-depth understanding of geology and its capacity to safely and permanently store waste streams underground, mitigating any risks to groundwater. This assurance is pivotal in gaining the trust of both industrial emitters and regulatory bodies, particularly in a nascent industry where the responsibility for potential leaks is a significant concern.

Amar Gujral, Managing Director at LEK Consulting, highlighted the substantial role Milestone plays in the oil waste management landscape in Texas’s largest shale fields, estimating its revenue to be between $100 million and $300 million. This underscores Milestone’s prominence in the sector and the potential for significant growth in the emerging carbon capture and storage market.

SK Capital Managing Director Jack Norris, responsible for materials and chemicals investments, emphasized the capital structure provided to Milestone by SK Capital, enabling the execution of its strategic vision. While specific investment details were not disclosed, this move positions SK Capital as a key player in driving Milestone’s expansion into the carbon storage space.

However, Charles McConnell, Executive Director of the Center for Carbon Management in Energy at the University of Houston, noted the challenges that newer carbon disposal firms face in convincing industrial emitters to partner with smaller companies. In an industry where financial robustness is paramount, emitters tend to favor deep-pocketed suppliers. McConnell emphasized that it’s a “nascent industry where everyone is looking at ‘who’s going to hold the bag?'” in the event of potential leaks or issues.

Graham Bain, a Vice President at consultants Enverus Intelligence, noted that the Permian Basin presents opportunities for smaller players that can leverage existing wastewater disposal infrastructure and relationships with oil producers. This sentiment underscores the potential for nimble, specialized companies like Milestone to carve a niche in the evolving landscape of carbon capture and storage.

Milestone’s strategic shift towards carbon storage positions it as a noteworthy player in the emerging market, reflecting a broader industry trend towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing CCS technologies. This transformation reflects the industry’s commitment to environmental responsibility and underscores the importance of innovative solutions in combating climate change.

Reporting by Emad Martin