Investors, too, are considering where their money can be better spent. Capital One analysts report the buzz at the bank's annual energy conference was not swirling around the Delaware or Midland basins, but North Dakota's Bakken shale formation.
"Although we are still bullish on the Permian, conversations with investors suggest that some have gotten more cautious on the basin given lofty acreage valuations in the last several months, growing concerns around infrastructure bottlenecks and price differentials" Capital One analysts said.
Basins beyond the Permian may start to look more attractive with oil prices on the rise following an agreement by OPEC and other producers to cut output in a bid to balance an oversupplied market.
Still, others say the oil well economics in the Permian are too good to ignore for those with the ability to stomach high land prices. Drillers are now exploring more remote parts of the Delaware, including a southern section called the Alpine High, where Apache Corp. says it has found 3 billion barrels of oil.
"The bottom line is in the Delaware, you are seeing the opening up of new economic benches, and those haven't been as heavily drilled recently, so it's a basin that is opening up very rapidly," said Dittmar.
— Editor's note: This story has been revised to reflect that LloydByrne is now an analyst with Instinet, the equities execution services arm ofNomura Group.