Global oilfield services and drilling companies are facing a massive wave of maturing debt over the next five years that could challenge firms already reeling from low oil prices.
According to a report published by Moody’s Tuesday, nearly $110 billion of debt associated with oilfield services and drilling (OFS) companies will mature over the next five years.
Speculative-grade companies will account for 65 percent of all the maturities and expirations, Moody’s said.
The ratings agency said that estimates show the maturity wall “growing dramatically to more than $21 billion” in 2018.
That figure is nearly three times the sector’s total expected debt burden in 2017.
The debt burden is then projected to continue climbing into 2021 when nearly $29 billion of issuance and revolvers are scheduled to come due, Moody’s said.
According to the report, over 70 percent of the rated high-yield bonds and term loans that mature through 2018 are rated Caa1 or lower, and more than 90 percent are rated below B1.
Those bonds and loans are in addition to about $3.1 billion of rated and unrated committed revolvers among issuers rated Caa1 or lower that are expiring through 2018, Moody’s said.
Moody’s said that most of the maturing debt was issued between 2011 and 2015 as energy prices climbed and the U.S. shale drilling activity boomed.
However, with crude prices still holding under $50 per barrel Moody’s said “refinancing needs across the sector are significant.”
“While some companies will be able to delay refinancing until business conditions improve, for the lowest-rated entities, onerous interest payments and required capex will consume cash balances and challenge their ability to wait it out,” Moody’s Assistant Vice President Morris Borenstein said.
As earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) continue to decline OFS companies are not only facing challenges to service their debt but may also see their refinancing options become “severely” limited or even eliminated, according to the report.
Of the 67 companies Moody’s analyzed for the report, analysts expect that more than one-third will have debt to EBITDA ratio above 10 times in 2016 as the drilling slowdown and low energy prices continue to weigh on earnings.
“Not surprisingly, these companies are most at risk for debt restructurings and defaults. We also see companies facing weakening financial covenant cushions that can accelerate default or result in expensive bank amendments that may or may not alleviate refinancing needs,” Moody’s said.