Since the first deals of Ancient Greece or Mesopotamia, the goal has been to pay less to make something at the same price, whether it’s a taco or a barrel of oil. For E&P investors, that reasoning would seem easier to grasp than “some esoteric geological reason” for doing a deal, Keys said.

“This is very basic stuff. Keep revenue flat, reduce input costs and then I make more money. This should work for E&Ps, right?”

Keys’ answer to his own question: “No.”

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