Allentown, PA-based American Energy Partners Inc. (AEP), which focuses on upstream oil and gas operations as well as waste and water treatment, has added another company to its repertoire.

AEP has acquired Hickman Geological Consulting LLC in exchange for 40.5 million shares of AEP’s preferred shares equal to 5% of its outstanding common stock. Hickman owner Josh Hickman has been on the board of AEP for the past two years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He founded the consultancy in 2014.

“This acquisition marks the beginning of American Energy's buy and build strategy,” AEP said earlier in July. “This acquisition represents only one of a series of acquisitions planned for the future.”

AEP now has four subsidiaries, including Hickman Geological. Its main exploration and production arm is Gilbert Oil and Gas LLC, which focuses on upstream operations in the Marcellus and Utica shales. Other subsidiaries are water-treatment company Hydration Company of PA and industrial waste treatment company American Energy Solutions LLC.

At the beginning of the year, Gilbert Oil added an unspecified number of wells to its Marcellus assets as part of its broader goal of consolidating oil and gas wells and leases in the Appalachian Basin.