ConocoPhillips is reportedly in talks with Concho Resources for a possible acquisition, which could become the third major deal in U.S. shale this year, after Chevron’s takeover of Noble Energy and Devon’s merger with WPX Energy.

Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources close to the negotiations, that the deal could be announced within a few weeks but the final decision is still uncertain, and the talks could end without a deal.

If it does go through, the deal will be another sign that market dynamics may be returning to normal, meaning that potential buyers are on the hunt for oil and gas bargains. A consolidation of the industry was a mark of every price collapse until this year when the pandemic made the future so uncertain that buyers stayed away from acquisitions.

“Historically, the oil industry has approached crises with a sense that the given challenges would soon pass, capital would return to the sector, demand would recover, and prices would rebound, often supported by regulatory accommodations,” says Nicholas Renter, vice-president of sales at M&A SaaS services provider Datasite, told Oilprice.com in August.

Yet this year, things changed as the perfect storm of low oil prices and low oil demand battered the industry and fogged the future to such an extent that nobody is certain that there is an opportunity in this particular crisis. This is why, for now, big deals have been more of an exception than the rule.

A tie-up between Conoco and Concho, however, could change the dominant sentiment of wariness. The deal, if it materializes, will see Conoco add some 800,000 gross acres in the Permian to its portfolio, with the production rate of the combined company, based on second-quarter numbers cited by Bloomberg, averaging 1.3 million barrels of oil equivalent daily. A deal could also drive a greater appetite for acquisitions in the sector.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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