The U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) is working hard with oil businesses to beat the sector's downturn, the bank's chief Fred Hochberg told CNBC on Tuesday.
As oil projects are put on hold or scaled back across the globe, it's hitting demand for smaller services providers, he said.
"It's very tough... Everybody's got to compete much harder and sharpen their pencils to get those orders. Where we step in is making sure they have the financial tools to compete effectively."
As the official U.S. export credit agency, Ex-Im Bank helps foreign buyers finance and insure purchases from U.S. small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), helping domestic companies build an international presence.
Ex-Im Bank calls the petroleum sector, including exploration, pipelines and refineries, a "major element" of its portfolio and annual financing commitments. From fiscal 2001 to the present, the bank has provided commitments totaling $14.8 billion for 78 transactions/projects in the sector, according to its website.
But the oil pain isn't just being felt by SMEs, it's reverberated across the oil sector with energy prices now down 70 percent since the summer of 2014.