Payne Institute Program Manager Brad Handler has prepared a quarterly report on how the top priority for the U.S. public oil and gas (O&G) companies remains to deliver higher financial returns to shareholders. Public commentary as the companies reported their 1Q22 earnings included widespread commitments to pay higher dividends and to buy back shares of their own stock. Yet, only a couple of months after laying out their spending expectations for 2022, the companies have also begun to raise their spending budgets for the year. These increases are largely in response to rising prices for goods and services, a function of supply constraints. May 24, 2022.