DALLAS – Two years after oil prices began their 60% plunge, credit impacts on the top 10 producing states vary significantly, according to a report from Moody's Investors Service.
While the nation's largest producer, Texas, has retained its Aaa rating and stable outlook, New Mexico's Aaa rating is under review for a downgrade. Louisiana has a negative outlook that could presage a fall from Moody's double-A tier.
Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming have taken some of the biggest hits from falling oil revenues.
California, the nation's third-largest producer, relies very little on oil and gas revenue to balance its state budget; the same is true in Colorado. In Kansas, falling oil and gas prices are just one factor in the state's larger economic woes.
"Alaska is experiencing the most severe financial stress because energy taxes were almost 90% of general fund revenues when prices were high," the Moody's report said. "Other states with more diverse economies and less general revenue reliance on energy taxes are in a better position to weather the industry downturn."
At the local level, credit impacts are even more apparent, analysts said. In high producing regions such as Midland-Odessa, Texas, Williston, N.D., and Kern County, Calif., falling production has drained local revenues.
"Those in producing regions are experiencing significant assessed value declines, over 50% in some cases," the report noted. "Persistently low prices are drilling holes into government budgets where these revenues fund general operations."
Severance taxes imposed on the removal of natural products, including other minerals, fish and timber, in calendar year 2015 were 46% below 2014 collections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In a separate report, Moody's industry credit analysts said that the economic impact of the oil market crash may turn out to be worse than that of the tech sector collapse that foreshadowed a recession in 2000.
"Both in terms of the number of recorded bankruptcies, as well as the recovery rates for creditors, the oil and gas industry bust that began in 2015 may turn out to be on par to the telecoms industry collapse of the early 2000s," according to Moody's senior vice president David Keisman.
"When all the data is in, including 2016 bankruptcies, it may very well turn out that this oil and gas industry crisis has created a segment-wide bust of historic proportions," he said.
Firm-wide recovery rates for the exploration and production bankruptcies from 2015 averaged only 21%, significantly lower than the historical average of 58.6% for all bankruptcies in the sector filed before 2015, according to Keisman.
Among governments, non-energy taxes in energy states are also underperforming, according to Moody's.
"North Dakota, Wyoming and Oklahoma will be three of the four worst performers in terms of sales and income taxes in 2016 as reductions in capital spending in the energy industry ripple throughout the economy," the report said.
Cities are more reliant on sales taxes to fund operations and are therefore more indirectly affected than the other local government sectors, analysts said.
"Like counties, cities have had to cope with increasing demand for public services during the oil boom," the report said. "As prices rise, exploration and production activity will also rebound but the swiftness will vary across the nation due to regional differences in oil and gas development costs based on factors like geology and wastewater disposal options."