Two Houston-based energy companies on Monday announced the first large merger in the U.S. oil industry since prices collapsed late last year.
Noble Energy will acquire Rosetta Resources in an all-stock transaction worth $2.1 billion; Noble will also assume Rosetta's net debt of $1.8 billion.
The deal gives Noble access to Rosetta's holdings in the Texas shale oil industry. Rosetta's assets include 56,000 acres in the Permian Basin and 50,000 in the Eagle Ford formation, the nation's most productive fracking regions.
"The Eagle Ford and the Permian are premier unconventional resource plays, two of the most economic in the U.S., which will expand our resource base and development inventory and further diversify our portfolio," Noble CEO Dave Stover said in a statement.
Noble operates in shale deposits in the Appalachians and in Colorado, as well as offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, near West Africa and in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Israeli regulators took issue with its holdings in the Leviathan natural gas field.
Observers said the transaction could serve as a benchmark for a wave of consolidation in the U.S. oil industry. The steep decline in global crude prices took a toll on the stock prices of many domestic producers, with one forecast pointing to 19 companies in danger of going belly-up.
Although Rosetta was not on that list, the company's stock traded at less than half of its mid-2014 value late last week.
Internationally, analysts speculated that low prices could spark a wave of mergers and acquisitions that mirrors the late 1990s. Royal Dutch Shell last month announced plans to acquire U.K.-based BG Group for $70 billion, the third-largest energy industry deal on record.