By Velda Addison, Hart Energy

Today’s energy sector M&A environment is reminiscent of a neighborhood filled with garage sales on an early Saturday morning.

Only the price tags are for millions of dollars, instead of a couple of bucks. And these sales appear to be growing in popularity and lasting a lot longer than the weekend.

Just like those folks lining sidewalks and standing in front lawns, many industry players are sifting through their closets and cabinets looking for stuff they don’t want—for whatever reason—in hopes that someone will find value in it and buy it. Hopes are to make money and perhaps purchase something that they really want. And buyers are cautiously looking for deals.

However, not every neighborhood is jumping into the action. In the energy industry most of the action is in the midstream sector, but there is still interest in upstream deal-making.

PwC’s Oil & Gas M&A analysis, released last week, showed that oil and gas deal activity—led by midstream transactions—increased in second-quarter 2015 (2Q 2015) compared with the previous quarter. A detailed article on the PwC analysis is available here. A subscription is required to view the article, but a free trial is available. Here’s a snapshot of some of PwC’s findings for 2Q 2015.

  • Total: Forty-seven oil and gas deals, each valued at more than $50 million, accounted for $38 billion, compared to 39 deals worth a combined $34.5 billion for 1Q 2015. However, the latest reported quarter had fewer than the 65 deals—worth about $48.9 billion—in 2Q 2014.
  • Midstream: 2Q 2015 saw 21 midstream deals valued at a combined $27.7 billion in value. The number of deals, which represented 44% of total deal activity, was a 110% increase over 2Q 2014. The total value of such deals was also higher—up 130%.
  • Upstream: Both the number of upstream deals and their combined value dropped in 2Q 2015, compared to 2Q 2014. The 18 transactions, totaling $8.3 billion, was down 55% and 67% in deal volume and value, respectively.
  • Most active: Although lower commodity prices and spending cutbacks might have kept some companies from spending in shale plays, some areas still managed to seal deals valued at a more than $50 million. With five deals worth a total of $1.5 billion, PwC said the Utica led in this category. But when it came to the value of transactions in shale plays, the Permian ruled with a single deal worth $3.9 billion.

But some upstream companies have indicated their willingness to step up M&A activity.

Here is what Exxon Mobil had to say.

“We continue to invest in the business and we have a very attractive inventory of high-quality opportunities given the financial flexibility,” said Jeff Woodbury, the company’s vice president of investor relations and secretary, for Exxon Mobil. “We can garner some real benefits during the downcycle in a softer market environment.”

Exxon Mobil Talks M&A

Not too long afterward the company announced it bought additional acreage in the Permian.

Exxon Signs Agreements To Drill West Texas Permian Acreage

Similar comments came from EOG Resources.

“Just like many of our peer companies we are looking for those opportunities,” said Billy Helms, executive vice president, E&P, for EOG Resources. “We’re still optimistic that we’re going to be able to do some more small tactical acquisitions and build acreage positions in some of our key or emerging plays. … We’re going to be very selective in what we chase.”

EOG Embraces Completions Technology As Downturn Gobbles Profit

So, future quarters could see more upstream action—that is if the price is right.

Velda Addison can be reached at or via Twitter @veldaaddison.