When it comes to dealmaking among big, integrated oil companies, it's not a question of who will do deals this year, but when, according to top-rated energy analyst Doug Terreson of Evercore ISI.
Mergers and acquisitions activity in the U.S. energy patch fell to a five-year low in the final quarter of 2015 as oil and gas companies preserved cash and entered "survival mode," PricewaterhouseCoopers reported last week.
But by the end of the first half of this year, big oil firms like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Royal Dutch Shell could start buying smaller companies that have been beaten up during a more than year-long oil price rout, Terreson said.
"We think they're all going to do a big deal," he told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report." "We think when you consider that [exploration and production] reserves are trading at about half the level they can find reserves for with the drill bit, there are great opportunities for these companies."
"We also think winners and losers are going to be determined by this activity for years to come," he added.