The number of U.S. oil firms filing for bankruptcies is swiftly approaching levels last seen during the telecom bust.
According to Reuters, 59 U.S. oil firms have filed for bankruptcy since prices began falling in 2014, just nine filings shy of the 68 bankruptcies filed during the telecom bust in 2002 and 2003.
Oklahoma-based Midstates Petroleum and Houston-based Ultra Petroleum became the latest firms to file for bankruptcy protection earlier this week.
A report published by Deloitte in February found that nearly 35 percent of pure-play E&Ps listed worldwide, or about 175 companies, are at a “high risk” for insolvency.
Thirty-five U.S. E&P firms with a cumulative debt of under $18 billion filed for bankruptcy protection from July 2014 to December 2015, according to Deloitte.
According to data collected by Dow Jones U.S. Oil and Gas Index and seen by Reuters, the valuation of U.S. energy companies has declined by as much as $1.02 trillion since oil prices began sliding in 2014.
However, the wave of bankruptcies has not put a large dent in U.S. production as most companies continue to operate under Chapter 11 protection.
Crude production dipped 3.4 percent year-over-year in April to 9.129 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
According to Deloitte, more than 80 percent of U.S. E&P firms that have filed for bankruptcy since July 2014 are still operating under Chapter 11 protection.
Deloitte said the majority of those restructuring plans were approved when oil prices were around $55 to $60 per barrel.