The latest wave of job losses follow a period of relative calm for energy firms as global crude prices stabilized.
But oil has resumed its slide over the past two months and now trades just below $49 a barrel.
The American energy revolution and record OPEC output has created a massive supply glut at a time when global economic growth is depressing demand.
The prospect of more oil exports from Iran as Western sanctions are lifted is also pressuring prices.
Lew’s basic message was that the debt ceiling needs to be raised, and the sooner the better.
But if “soon” isn’t on the agenda, Treasury’s special accounting measures, in use since March, will likely buy lawmakers until at least mid-fall before they have to act.
“We believe that the measures will not be exhausted before late October, and it is likely that they will last for at least a brief additional period of time,” Lew wrote.
In March, a suspension of the debt limit expired and the ceiling was reset at $18.113 trillion.
But Congress didn’t act, even though the nation’s debt was effectively at its legal borrowing limit, and Treasury needed to keep borrowing to pay the country’s bills.
Enter the “extraordinary measures” that Lew refers to in his letter.