The oil and gas industry is undergoing its biggest-ever consolidation

  • The oil and gas industry is undergoing its biggest-ever consolidation, according to Enverus.

  • Upstream merger and acquisition activity hit $144 billion in the fourth quarter alone and $190 billion for 2023, both setting records.

  • Bids from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Occidental Petroleum were among the key deals fueling the record.

The upstream oil and gas sector is consolidating at a record pace, as companies race to secure longevity in the market.Merger and acquisition activity among exploration and production companies hit $144 billion in the fourth quarter alone and $190 billion for 2023, both setting records, according to analytics firm Enverus.

“Oil and gas is undergoing a historic consolidation wave comparable to what occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s giving rise to the modern supermajors,” Senior Vice President Andrew Dittmar said in a press release. “After a decade of lowered investment in exploration and with the major US shale plays largely defined, M&A has become the preferred tool to replace declining reserves and secure longevity in these companies’ profitable upstream businesses.”

In the fourth quarter, bids from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Occidental Petroleum were among the key deals fueling the record-setting consolidation.M&A activity was overwhelmingly focused on oil last year, totaling $186 billion in deals, while $6 billion targeted gas, according to Enverus.Interest in the latter will likely grow as the US industry is working on increasing its liquefied natural gas exports over the next three years.

The Permian Basin, the shale epicenter located in Texas and New Mexico, in particular was a “juggernaut for deals” in 2023, Dittmar noted.”Buyers increasingly showed a willingness to pay whatever it took to boost their footprint in this critical play, and prices for future drilling inventory climbed to new highs,” he added.This year will likely see the M&A boom lose some steam, as the list of assets worth taking over has become limited. Still, dealmaking will continue, with buyers potentially eyeing the privately-held Endeavor Energy Resources.

Broadly, the US oil and gas industry has had a blowout year, with the country becoming history’s largest crude producer. Natural gas output was also estimated to top record highs in 2023.Booming production from US oil companies helped offset output curbs from OPEC+, which have struggled to lift crude prices.