Moody’s expects more oil companies to default as banks restrict lending

Moody’s Investors Service says it expects more US oil companies to default as banks tighten lending standards and as contracts that locked in higher crude prices for future production start to expire, according to Fuel Fix.

The agency’s oil and gas liquidity stress index rose to 10.4% in June, up from 3.8% a year ago. While Moody’s predicts that the energy sector will continue to be a primary driver of defaults in 2016, its stress index is still well below the index’s peak of 26% during the 2009 financial crisis.

On Aug. 3, US crude prices fell to $45 a barrel. In July, the average price was $60 a barrel. Banks are starting to tighten up their lending standards, further draining liquidity out of the market.

Fuel Fix reported that, in April through June, seven defaulting companies included Halcon Resources Corp., Midstates Petroleum Corp., Sabine Oil & Gas Corp., Venoco, American Energy Partners’ Woodford unit, Warren Resources, and RAAM Global Energy Co. In June, Sabine filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, becoming the sixth public American oil producer to do so in 2015.

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