Jim Cramer says he could see ‘9 or 10’ oil companies going bankrupt if crude declines persist

Oil pumpjacks in the Permian Basin oil field are getting to work as crude oil prices gain.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Monday he could see the oil industry experiencing a significant wave of bankruptcies if low crude prices persist. 

Of the more than 35 companies in the oil industry he follows, Cramer said, “I think fully maybe 9 or 10 can go.” 

Cramer’s remarks on “Closing Bell” came as oil prices sank to multiyear lows after a heightening of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia. His comments also came shortly after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 2,000 points, or 7.79%, in its worst day since 2008

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude declined 24.59%, or $10.15, on Monday to close the session at $31.13 per barrel. In early January, WTI was at more than $60 per barrel. 

International benchmark Brent crude sank 21.3% to $35.58 per barrel on Monday. 

The steep declines in crude prices follow reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to cut its oil prices while also increasing production. Saudi Arabia is planning the move after OPEC was unable to reach an agreement with its allies, led by Russia, over production cuts. 

The production cuts were being considered in response to a decline in global demand for oil, brought about by the fast-spreading coronavirus. 

The XOP ETF, which tracks oil and gas companies, fell 27% on Monday.

Cramer is among many analysts and experts who are warning about the future of oil companies if crude remains at such a low price. 

One big reason: Over the next four years, the U.S. oil and gas industry has about $86 billion of rated debt due, according to Moody’s. And low oil prices make it difficult for those companies to make debt payments. 

“We’ll see bankruptcies. We’re going to see some [companies] really trying to survive,” oil expert Daniel Yergin told CNBC earlier Monday. “This is a very difficult, bracing period for those companies.” 

While some people have raised concerns about banks being caught up in the financial troubles of oil companies, Cramer said he was less worried.

“I feel better about the banks than I do any oil company,” Cramer said. 

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