There were eight bankruptcies by North American oil and gas producers in the first quarter of 2021, versus 17 in the first quarter of 2016 – the last time U.S. crude futures dipped under $30 a barrel. Prices have bounced back from year-ago lows, trading around $63 a barrel on Thursday.
The first quarter was marked by filings from relatively smaller firms, with just $1.8 billion in aggregate debt for the quarter. Last year, companies that filed for bankruptcy held $53 billion in aggregate debt, the highest total since 2016, when debt among filers totaled $56.8 billion, according to the report.
HighPoint Resources Corp was the largest debt-holder to file for the quarter, with $905 million in secured and unsecured debt.
Five oilfield service companies also filed for bankruptcy in the first quarter. Offshore driller Seadrill Ltd (SDRL.OL) accounted for most of the sector’s $7.2 billion debt, according to the report.