While publicly traded producers in the Permian Basin are continuing to practice capital discipline even though oil prices recently soared to over $80 a barrel, the ambitious growth plans of the privately held operators are expected to drive a drilling surge in the nation’s largest shale play.

Vaccine-fueled demand recovery has paved a path for private operators to increase spending and pump more in West Texas and parts of New Mexico.

For instance, Tyler, Texas-based Mewbourne Oil Co. is now running 17 drill rigs in the U.S., more than Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. combined, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.

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