Oil bankruptcies decline as prices rise

The past two and a half years haven’t been kind to oil companies.

But drillers and energy services firms have dramatically slowed the deluge of bankruptcies that tied up nearly $80 billion of debt in legal proceedings.

So far, only two upstream companies in North America filed bankruptcy papers in December, the lowest monthly increase since the beginning of last year, a new report shows. It’s the latest sign climbing oil prices have eased the financial pressure on domestic drillers since OPEC announced plans to cut oil production in late November.

More than 220 drillers and oil-equipment makers across North America have succumbed to the oil bust, with nearly two-thirds of those filing for bankruptcy in 2016, according to Dallas law firm Haynes & Boone.

But only Stone Energy Corp., a Louisiana energy producer, and Advanced Solids Control, a Texas oil field service company, filed for bankruptcy protection this month, compared to 11 companies last December.

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