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Energy haves circle have-nots

(2nd R-L) Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Qatar's Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino attend a joint news conference following their meeting in Doha, Qatar February 16, 2016.
Naseem Zeitoon | Reuters
(2nd R-L) Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Qatar's Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and Venezuela's Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino attend a joint news conference following their meeting in Doha, Qatar February 16, 2016.

The energy haves will be circling the have-nots in Houston this week. Balance sheets and the fate of the recently announced Saudi Arabia-Russia oil output deal will be on the agenda as industry executives gather for the annual IHS CERAWeek gabfest. A long-expected wave of dealmaking may finally emerge as weaker producers' financing dries up.

When delegates last gathered in April 2015, crude was trading at around $60 a barrel and Royal Dutch Shell had just launched its $70 billion swoop on gas producer BG. A brief rally in crude prices proved fleeting, though, and an expected wave of follow-on deals never materialized.

Instead, producers hunkered down as oil prices fell below $40 per barrel, some 70 percent below mid-2014 levels. Global oil and gas M&A activity dropped 11 percent during 2015 — overall a record year for deals, according to Thomson Reuters data. The average S&P 500 energy-sector stock has tumbled more than 40 percent since mid-2014.