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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • U.S. crude stockpiles rose by 400,000 barrels last week, while analysts had expected a fall. Benchmark Brent crude was up 1 cent at $60.71 a barrel at press time, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 20 cents to $56.06.
  • Twenty-six U.S. oil-and-gas producers including Sanchez Energy Corp.and Halcón Resources Corp. have filed for bankruptcy this year, according to an August report by the law firm Haynes & Boone LLP. That nearly matches the 28 producer bankruptcies in all of 2018, and the number is expected to rise as companies face mounting debt maturities, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Energy companies with junk-rated bonds were defaulting at a rate of 5.7% as of August, according to Fitch Ratings, the highest level since 2017. The metric is considered a key indicator of the industry’s financial stress. The pressures are due to companies struggling to service debt and secure new funding, as investors question the shale business model.
  • U.S. Silica will idle its frac sand plant in Utica, Ill., in response to poor market conditions, several news organizations reported. Approximately 30 workers at the facility will be impacted by the close of operations. Located about 80 miles southwest of Chicago, the facility produces 20/40, 30/50, and 100 mesh material that is shipped to customers through the BNSF and UP railroads, according to information on U.S. Silica’s website.