Since June 2014 when global oil prices began their downward spiral, the price of oil has collapsed more than 70%.
The once resilient U.S. energy industry is showing intense signs of strain. ExxonMobil (XOM), the biggest player in the space, may lose its pristine triple-A rating as its profits have swooned.
Meanwhile, some smaller exploration and production companies have seen their stock prices collapse as investors question their viability. In a sign of the pressure, the risk premium investors demand to hold the debt of junk-rated U.S. energy companies climbed to a record high earlier this month — even surpassing levels hit during the financial crisis, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) data show.