Analysis: U.S. shale investment is back on the upswing

Global upstream oil and gas merger and acquisitions reached $136 billion in 2016, according to Evaluate Energy's global M&A 2016 review. And one area seeing a jump in activity was the U.S. Marcellus shale, where close to eight times more was invested in asset and corporate acquisitions in 2016 than in 2015.

The Marcellus formation, which runs through northern Appalachia, primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio, is considered the second-largest natural gas field in the world, after Northfield in Qatar and Iran. Marcellus spans approximately 60.8 million net acres with an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 50 trillion cubic feet of which is recoverable using current technology.

In 2015, the U.S. shale industry was one of the main casualties of the oil price downturn, suffering a 75 percent drop in year-on-year merger and acquisition spending to $13 billion. This amount was the lowest annual M&A U.S. shale spend since 2009. A reshuffling of asset portfolios in 2016 redirected investments away from the Permian basin, and toward the Marcellus Shale, which led to resurgence in deals as well as natural gas output. The M&A spend in the shale industry bounced back to $48 billion during 2016, representing a 269% increase year on year.


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