(Bloomberg) — ConocoPhillips is in talks to acquire rival Concho Resources Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, as the largest independent energy producer looks to make a bold bet on U.S. shale during an historic industry downturn.The companies could announce a deal in the next few weeks, said the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. No final decision has been made and talks could fall through.Concho shares fell 1.3% in New York Tuesday, closing at $44.14 and giving it a market value of about $8.7 billion. Conoco fell 2% to $34.88, for a market value of about $37 billion.Representatives for Conoco and Concho didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.The transaction would be the latest big deal in a sector that investors and analysts have long pegged as ripe for consolidation. It would follow Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s $38 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year.A deal would also continue a trend of explorers seeking to bulk up in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, the most productive oilfield in the U.S. Chevron Corp. agreed in July to buy Noble Energy Inc. for about $5 billion, adding to its assets in the region.Midland, Texas-based Concho has drilling rights on about 800,000 gross acres in the Permian, according to an investor presentation in September.While Houston-based Conoco has lost nearly half its market value this year, it’s held up relatively well compared to peers as oil prices collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic.Conoco said last month that it would resume share repurchases, after cutting production and curbing spending to conserve cash in the first half of 2020.(Updates with additional details from fifth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the spelling of ConocoPhillips in final paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.