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

E&Ps are seemingly getting it together in 2021—certainly more than their bacchanal days of $100-plus oil, when shale was considered invaluable and invincible.

These days, oil and gas companies are spendthrifts. Oil is on the cusp of $80/bbl, but there’s seemingly a disinterest in producing more except through well-by-well tune ups and plugging emission leaks. Instead, they’ve taken up the mantle of scale, the virtue of low leverage and the most sanctified of vows, free cash flow. E&Ps have found Wall Street religion.

But it does beg the question: How will the ever competitive universe of oil and gas companies differentiate themselves?

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