40% of Oil Producers Will Go Bankrupt if $30 Persists


by Mish Shedlock, The Maven:

Based on forward charts at least 40% of US oil producers are headed for bankruptcy.
Inquiring minds are diving into the Kansas City Fed Energy Survey by Chad Wilkerson, to get a better grip on problems facing oil producers. The results are grim.“District energy activity fell sharply during the first quarter of 2020, with our index dropping to its  lowest level since we began the survey in early 2014,” said Wilkerson. “Expectations for future activity also fell to their lowest level since late 2014, as most firms do not expect energy prices to return to profitable levels this year.”

WTI Survey Price Expectations

Kansas City Fed Energy Survey - Price Expectations 2020-04-21
  • 6 Months: $33
  • 1 Year: $42
  • 2 Years: $50
  • 5 Years: $58


Kansas City Fed Energy Survey - Solvency Expectations 2020-04-21

61 percent of firms would  remain solvent in the next year if the WTI price of oil would stay at $30 per barrel, and 64 percent of firms would remain solvent if the WTI price of oil would stay at $40.

Forward Prices

WTI Oil Futures Through March 2021 2020-04-21

Price data in the above table from MarketWatch.

If those prices hold, the survey estimates about 39% of the oil producers will go bankrupt.

Even at $40, 36% of the firms would go bankrupt.

Oil Crash Resumes: When Does It Stop?

Earlier today I asked Oil Crash Resumes: When Does It Stop?

When Does the Crash Stop?

  1. When producers stop drilling oil that is not needed.
  2. When the speculators putting on “paper oil” trades get wiped out.

Paper Oil

Oil is another example of leveraged trades. Even more so than gold, speculators will not take delivery.

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