No one had seen anything like this. Unlike previous downturns, no amount of bracing could save some oil companies from bankruptcy or falling into the arms of peers with stronger balance sheets.

Planning for the next chapter in the predictably unpredictable oil and gas sector could seem like a tall order—not knowing which direction attempts to slow the global pandemic could swing demand. However, today’s market turmoil has not blinded executives from long-term company goals. It may have even shed more light on specific paths different types of companies are taking, evidenced by where capital is being directed.

As the industry picks itself up from another fall, technology—which helped drive U.S. shale production to new heights—could focus on autonomous, digital and remote applications, some say. While no one knows how energy companies will look post-pandemic, many agree that those that do survive will emerge looking a bit different. For an industry that oftentimes evolves at the pace of sea change, the coronavirus pandemic might indeed force an acceleration.

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