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The Unique Ways Oil Companies Are Looking To Avoid Bankruptcy

The Unique Ways Oil Companies Are Looking To Avoid Bankruptcy

Many U.S. shale firms have cruised through the past couple of years by borrowing money and drilling new wells, making the United States the world’s top crude oil producer. The strategy worked for a while, especially when oil prices were around $60 a barrel.  

But this year’s oil price crash exposed the financial vulnerability of many U.S. shale companies who are now fighting for survival. All producers across the U.S. patch pulled back production volumes in April and May in response to the collapse in prices.    

For some oil and gas firms, reduced capital budgets will not be enough to save them from defaulting on debt or seeking restructuring as cash flows are shrinking, while the window of access to capital markets and new debt remains, for the most part, closed.

Those firms who choose not to seek (or are not forced to seek) protection from creditors via Chapter 11 restructuring could look at other options to avoid bankruptcy, some of which may be a little unconventional.

Today, unconventional may be an understatement when it comes to describing the oil industry’s state of affairs. All options – regardless of how (un)common they are – are on the table for struggling oil producers.

Industry consolidation, private equity firms acquiring assets or distressed companies, banks ending up holding oil and gas assets, or power utilities buying their providers of energy could be some of the options that oil firms might consider, Suzy Taherian, who worked with Exxon and Chevron at the start of her career, writes in Forbes

Mergers & Acquisitions Hit By Uncertainty 

U.S. shale firms have fewer financing options now than they did in the 2015-2016 downturn. Thus could drive consolidation in the industry with some attractive M&A opportunities emerging, according to Robert Polk, principal analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s U.S. Corporate Research team, covering Lower 48 independents.

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