The value of takeovers in Canada's oil and gas industry hit a record high of $54.1 billion last year, according to Calgary-based mergers and acquisitions consultants Sayer Energy Advisors.

That was two-and-a-half-times the $15.6 billion value in 2011. The previous record, in 2007, was $49.7 billion.

The number represents the total cost of all the deals for the year, both of acquiring all the shares and taking on the debt of the target companies, and referred to as the enterprise value.

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There was "continued interest from foreign entities," Sayer said in a commentary, not only in takeovers, but also in joint venture partnerships.

There were seven deals worth more a billion dollars, led by China-based CNOOC’s acquisition of Nexen Inc. for $22.8 billion, the purchase of Malaysia-based Petronas of Progress Energy Resources for $6.1 billion and ExxonMobil ‘s deal to get Celtic Exploration for $3.2 billion.

Of the deals involving large firms, two-thirds were primarily focused on oil production, in contrast with 2011, when the majority of transactions involved companies focused on natural gas.

At the same time as the industry saw a flurry of big takeovers, there has been a rise in receiverships among smaller players as those firms struggle with low oil and gas prices and reluctant investors.