The boom in energy prices in '07-'08 allowed many marginal small cap energy companies to make significant money and climb off the bottom rung. With prices depressed and many of those companies having made acquisitions using debt, many of them will once again find themselves struggling to survive. I agree that we won't likely see any of the large independents swallowed (think Chesapeake, Devon, Anadarko, Apache, EOG etc) but I would not be surprised to see many deals involving specific properties. There are still many small companies that would be better off being absorbed into larger companies. As for Chesapeake, I don't think they need to acquire any additional acreage. In fact, if pricing were to rebound, they might be better off divesting non core conventional reserves in the midcontinent and south Texas. Focus on the 4 shale plays. Those will take years to develop.