[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the January 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

One thing is clear when compiling a ranking of the Top 50 U.S. independent producers in 2020—the racing field is contracting. A group of 50 public E&Ps is almost all-encompassing, with a range of market capitalizations from a high of $41 billion to a mere $98 million. And while the quantity of oil and gas companies has condensed in the last two years since Investor last performed a market rank check, so too have the valuations. By a lot.

Alas, it almost feels like a scene out of Avengers: Infinity War when half of the universe’s life forms dissipated into a cloud of ash.

The 2021 Oil and Gas Investor Public E&P Top 50 ranks the largest publicly held U.S. based independent producers by market capitalization, a simple and straightforward measurement of how Wall Street values companies in a moment of time. Market caps were researched in mid-November 2020 using data from Yahoo Finance. Changes shown in the accompanying table are against the 2019 Top 50, in which market capitalizations were researched in November 2018.

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