DENVER, Colo. (


) --

Delta Petroleum


, a $276 million market cap independent oil and gas operator, was up 25% on Wednesday mid-day, with a huge spike in trading -- 35 million shares were in play on Wednesday, versus an average of a little under 8 million.

The 25% spike in the share price of Delta Petroleum is not as eye-popping when it's taken into account that it's a $1.25 stock, and was up only 24 cents at mid-day.

Call it the

Exxon-XTO Effect .

With all these Delta Petroleum shares in play, it leads one back to the market's biggest story this week, the


(XOM) - Get Report

acquisition of

XTO Energy



Mergers and acquisitions speculation in the oil and gas sector has heated up as a result of the

Exxon-XTO deal, as many of the large global energy producers are expected to follow suit and target U.S. independents with natural gas resources, as well as resource technology expertise in unconventional assets.

There is also a higher level of confidence in the U.S. natural gas market, more generally speaking, as a result of Exxon's bet. It is the natural gas market version of the shot in the arm provided to the railroad sector recently when Warren Buffett and his famed investment firm

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.B) - Get Report


Burlington Northern

TST Recommends



Some of the larger independents in the energy sector, including

Chesapeake Energy

(CHK) - Get Report



(ECA) - Get Report


Devon Energy

(DVN) - Get Report

, have received the larger attention amidst the M&A speculation, and while all were up in trading mid-day Wednesday, none was close to the Delta Petroleum gain.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.


>>Exxon-XTO deal leads to Energy Run Up

>>After Exxon-XTO, What's Next?

>>See our new stock quote page.

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