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

This year Oil and Gas Investor celebrates the fact that it made its first appearance in 1981. Forty years on, the independent E&P universe we cover has changed considerably. Now seemingly at a crossroads, what lies ahead for these companies in the next 10, 20, 30, (dare we say 40) years? 

After we spoke to a variety of observers, two things became clear: All are concerned; all are optimistic. As they said in one voice, oil demand is not going away entirely. There are few viable substitutes of scale—yet. 

Besides, they said, independents are fighters. They always have been, ever since the first entrepreneurs fought off the aggressive business tactics of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust. They have shown they are flexible, so they will adapt to new technologies and new regulations. 

Their optimism shines whenever they make that phone call ordering a rig. 

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