Trends in Large Corporate Bankruptcy and Financial Distress (Midyear 2021 Update): Energy Sector Spotlight

Executive Summary

To read the full report, please click here: Trends in Large Corporate Bankruptcy and Financial Distress

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a spike in large corporate bankruptcy filings not seen since the global financial crisis. The number of large corporate bankruptcies in 2020 was second only to 2009’s peak, and bankruptcy filings by companies with more than $1 billion in assets were the highest since 2005.

As the economic recovery began to take hold, however, bankruptcies returned to lower levels in the first half of 2021. This pattern was consistent across most industries.

This report examines trends in Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings between January 2005 and June 2021. Unless specified otherwise, the bankruptcies analyzed in this report involve public and private companies with over $100 million in assets.[1] 

Energy Sector Spotlight

69%: Increase in Mining, Oil, and Gas bankruptcy filings from 2019 to 2020.

Figure 5: Oil Price and Bankruptcy Filings in the Mining, Oil, and Gas Industry

2005-1H 2021

Source: BankruptcyData

Note: Only Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings by companies (both public and private) with over $100 million in assets are included. For companies where exact asset values are not known, the lower bound of the estimated range is used. Asset values are not adjusted for inflation. The SIC Industry Division “Mining” is labeled as “Mining, Oil, and Gas” to reflect the specific industries under the Industry Division. Years are labeled at January 1.


  1. This report relies on data obtained from BankruptcyData on July 6, 2021. It focuses on asset values at the time of bankruptcy filings, due to the higher prevalence of missing information on liabilities in BankruptcyData.

  2. A Proclamation on Earth Day, 2021,” The White House Briefing Room, April 22, 2021.

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National Law Review, Volumess XI, Number 237