Could more natural gas-focused exploration and production (E&P) or midstream transactions be in the works after Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Southwestern Energy Co. agreed to combine into the Lower 48’s largest gas producer?

Oil-focused dealmaking powered much of the consolidation in the U.S. oil and gas industry in 2023, with associated gas production riding the coattails of Permian Basin deals. 

And indeed, that script played out as 2024 began, with APA Corp. announcing a $4.5 billion purchase of Permian producer Callon Petroleum Co. But a week later, the two natural gas pure-plays, Chesapeake and Southwestern, said they would form a $7.4 billion combination of their resources in the Appalachia and Haynesville Shale.

Analysts expect more deals to follow as consolidation...