A recent survey of energy professionals by Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF) revealed that 56% of respondents said that the industry trend most likely to gain traction this year is energy independence, the company said March 24.

The survey was conducted at NAPE in February, Capital One Financial added, noting that other trends highlighted by respondents, as likely to gain traction this year, were opposition to shale development and growth in alternative energy.

The survey yielded a positive outlook for gas prices—two-thirds of respondents said prices should either remain steady or increase this year, and 71% said that oil prices have much the same outlook, Capital One Financial said.

“This upbeat view of oil and gas prices goes hand in hand with the progress toward U.S. energy independence,” said Russ Johnson, head of energy investment banking for Capital One Securities Inc.

The biggest current concern was increased regulation, according to 40% of survey respondents, Capital One Financial said, noting that the next most pressing concerns were pressures on commodity prices and access to capital.

Survey respondents indicated that they expected more mergers and acquisitions (M&A) this year, Capital One Financial said, noting that 58% expected M&A to increase, while 38% expected these to stay at last year’s level.

McLean, Va.-based Capital One Financial Corp. is a financial holding company working nationwide.

Capital One Securities Inc. is the company’s institutional broker-dealer.