Yes, I'm looking for a balance too and have a healthy memory of the income trust days and pre-2014 companies with unsustainable dividends (CPG anyone?), and my investments are in the lower debt oil and gas companies that are still lowering debt, while having a healthy dividend, and making a level of share buybacks or specials. Most are aligning their regular dividend payment to supporting their business at $50 WTI or so. Tourmaline is the lowest debt company by far, nearly debt-free and at a 0.1 D/E ratio already, it is quite remarkable to see Canada's largest natural gas producer in such a strong financial position - only $166M of bank debt vs > $4B of annual cash flow.Not to distract specifically in this thread on O&G cash flow windfalls, but it would be wise for O&G to declare special dividends once a year rather than increase their quarterly dividend payout practices too far. It would be even better to action a 3 prong approach to cash flow windfalls, i.e. share buybacks, debt reduction and special dividends in some ratio.
A company usually wants to carry some debt which carries a lower cost of capital than equity but a number of successful O&G companies have carried zero net debt on their balance sheets from time to time. I would applaud companies for taking debt down to very low levels such that D/E ratios are under 0.2 and even as low as 0.1.