This segment is from Tuesday's edition of "Digging for Value," in which sector analysts Joel South and Taylor Muckerman discuss energy and materials news. The twice-weekly show can be viewed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It can also be found on Twitter, along with our extended coverage of the energy and materials sectors @TMFEnergy.

Large integrated oil majors have historically been safe investments that offer fortress-like balance sheets, vast resource rights, and technical expertise to scale production. While the majority of crude oil is still produced from conventional plays, modern technology and expertise in shale exploration and production has leveled the playing field for smaller E&Ps. Producing hydrocarbons from shale rock is similar to a manufacturing plant. More hydraulic fracturing stages usually leads to more production, and with steep well decline curves scale is no longer a competitive advantage.

Shale plays have opened the door for first movers like Continental Resources (NYSE:CLR) in the Williston Basin and EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) in the Eagle Ford to build up immense assets and offer shareholders returns that dwarf those from large integrated oil companies.