Making a profit in the shale patch has been an uphill battle to begin with for many companies, but the latest crash in crude prices makes that task much more difficult. Bankruptcies could begin to rise if oil prices fail to rebound.
Even though the oil market has risen considerably since February, bankruptcies, staff layoffs, capital expenditure cuts, and falling productivity continue to be commonplace during the price downturn that has so far lasted for seven straight quarters.
Both banks and regulators are cracking down on shale producers, as 10 of the largest U.S. banks still have $147 billion in unfunded credit to energy companies.
Against the backdrop of high debt, capex cuts, and more E&P bankruptcies, 2016 will be a slog for oilfield services, just like everyone else in the oil and gas industry.
Few, if any, shale oil producers are profitable in the current price environment. But unlike previous oil price collapses, oil companies have access to new lines of credit which are helping to keep production high.