OPEC’s failure to agree new limits on oil production regardless of demand and tumbling prices is seen by some as a deliberate move to send rival producers to the wall.
Reports say many shale companies are defaulting on their loans because the oil price has plunged below break-even point.
Some analysts and commentators believe the Saudi-led policy is aimed at squeezing Russian and American shale drillers out of the market.
Many small producers have accumulated large amounts of debt.
But there are also reports that the US shale oil industry is ready to face down its aggressors, proving more resilient than expected.