Tight oil operators set out their stall early this year. Independents, with a nose for the turn, sniffed the opportunity.
After two years of desperate retrenchment, 2017 would be a year of growth, the start of a new upcycle. With equity capital shoring up many a balance sheet, investment budgets were cranked up, and rigs deployed.
Dizzying, decade-long growth targets from Pioneer, ExxonMobil and Chevron drove home the point - the second phase of the tight oil boom was different from just any old oil and gas fad.
Momentum is building
US independents re-iterated commitment to 2017 budgets in Q1 results over the last fortnight, in spite of an unfortunately timed wobble in crude prices. The push into tight oil is being reinforced as companies rationalise and reposition portfolios.
Marathon raised US$2.5bn from its Canadian oil sands exit and invested US$1.8bn in two Permian acquisitions. The allure of tight oil to Marathon is clear - it intends to increase the US share of production from 60% to 90% in the next 5-10% years, deprioritising conventional international assets. ConocoPhillips is treading a similar path.