After the coronavirus pandemic and oil price war set in at the end of the first quarter, the second quarter began with a wave of bankruptcies in the oil and gas sector in North America, according to the report.
There have been more than 18 producer bankruptcies in Q2 alone, according to Haynes and Boone—it is the highest quarterly figure since 2016 during the previous oil price crash. So far this year, 41 oil producers and oilfield service firms have sought bankruptcy protection.
Even without the coronavirus pandemic or the oil price war, the flurry of bankruptcies were to be expected, with companies holding junk-rated bonds defaulting on interest payments at record levels even in 2019, with more distressed companies in the energy sector than in any other, Michael Bradley, energy strategist with Tudor, Pickering, Holt said at the end of last year.
Of course, these distressed companies were all holding out hope that oil prices would recover in 2020.
Nothing could have been further from how this year is playing out.
This year has seen Chesapeake Energy, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Whiting Petroleum,
And even while prices have rebounded, the $40 per barrel oil price right now will not be sufficient to stave off doom for the debt-laden shale producer, Haynes and Boone said. $40 oil will not be enough for shale companies to make good on their hefty debt obligations.
Rystad Energy in April warned that as many as 530 U.S. oil companies could file for bankruptcy protection if oil had stayed at $20 per barrel.