When it comes to the state of the global oil and gas market, the often misquoted line by Mark Twain springs to mind: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
For more than a year now, the prices of both West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude oil have been bumping along in the range of $30–$60 per barrel, currently hovering just above the $40 per barrel mark. Between 2012 and 2014, prices reached as high as $125 per barrel and never fell below $90 per barrel until they began their steady decline toward the end of 2014.
This low-price environment has led to investment stagnation, both by oil companies themselves in terms of exploration and production (E&P) spending, but also in terms of market appetite for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). According to a report by Deloitte, there was a near-halving of M&A deals in 2015 with 379 closed, down from 709 the previous year, and well short of the market peak of 815 M&A deals in 2011.