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

The Golden Age of shale M&A was a kind of swinger’s party for oil and gas prospectors. Private equity firms, (thousands of) lawyers and public companies traded money for shale. Afterward, any actual parties happened elsewhere, out of earshot of those public companies.

Now, shale seems to have entered a slightly less lustrous Bronze Age. Brought on by the cabin fever of coronavirus lockdowns and the languishing market caps of public E&P companies, the Bronze Age is marked by Zoom calls, dwindling cash and no parties whatsoever.

But behold! Like the ancients scanning the sky for portents, large bodies are colliding in the observable M&A-verse. Recent mergers include Devon Energy Corp. and WPX Energy Inc.; Diamondback Energy Inc. and QEP Resources Inc.; and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Parsley Energy Inc.

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