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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Chevron's deal to snap up Noble Energy could usher in more oil-patch mergers, but it's hardly a sure bet.

Driving the news: The all-stock deal announced on Monday is the first big takeover during the pandemic-fueled oil bust.

  • But Chevron was on the hunt even before the crisis, and analysts are uncertain how many more deals are in the offing.

What they're saying: "This could certainly ignite a wave of additional consolidation, although that is by no means certain," Enverus analyst Andrew Dittmar said in a note.

  • He points out that M&As were already slow heading into the pandemic, but that the crisis has also created openings — if the stars align.
  • “This deal lays out the blueprint for what post-COVID consolidation will likely need to look like with all-stock consideration, a moderate premium, and asset fit and synergies that are an easy and natural story to tell investors," he said.

The intrigue: Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov tells me that "in the middle of a painful commodity down cycle, even the most liquid, stable companies are not automatically on the lookout for large-scale acquisitions."

  • "We need to be mindful of pressures on balance sheets from low commodity prices as well as dividends. No management team would want to jeopardize its balance sheet due to an ill-timed purchase," Molchanov said.

Yes, but: “In a downturn like this, the strong get stronger and the weaker players try to survive as best they can, and some will be bought," Duane Dickson, a top Deloitte energy analyst, tells The New York Times.

  • “There will be some bankruptcies and mergers and acquisitions like you saw today and I would expect that will continue and potentially pick up speed."

Go deeper

Oct 27, 2020 - Podcasts

The fight over fracking

Fracking has become a flashpoint in the election's final week, particularly in Pennsylvania where both President Trump and Joe Biden made stops on Monday. But much of the political rhetoric has ignored that the industry has gone from boom to bust, beset by layoffs, bankruptcies and fire-sale mergers.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of fracking, and what it means for the future of American energy, with Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

2 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

2 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.