[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the February 2019 edition of Oil and Gas Investor. Subscribe to the magazine here.]

The A&D market got whammied in December. Year-end is usually a tough stretch for deal-making, but even industry veterans were lamenting the state of the business. “I’m not sure we’re going to sell anything ever again,” one joked over the phone.

A combination of tumbling oil prices, prickly investors, financial battles with China and more laid waste to a year that started so strongly.

One of Earthstone Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: ESTE) last acts of the holiday season was to cede. On Dec. 21, it announced it would reimburse $3.1 million in transaction fees to Sabalo Holdings Inc. to make its two-month-old deal go away. Slow murder by the markets does that to a company.

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