Weld O&G operator Whiting Petroleum files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

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DENVER — Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: WLL) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in Texas as the worldwide slowdown in fuel demand caused by the novel coronavirus and an ongoing oil price war abroad has driven oil prices to lows not seen in decades.

The Denver-based oil company said it has just over $585 million in cash and plans to operate as normal with no impact to customers or employees. The bankruptcy is designed to pay off the company’s revolving credit line and reorganize $2.2 billion in long-term debt.

Whiting produced 3.4 million barrels of oil and 10.2 million metric cubic feet of natural gas in 2019, according to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records. Its Colorado operations were solely within Weld County.

According to its latest annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision, Whiting has 505 employees across the company but it’s unclear how many work in oil production within Weld County. A company spokesman did not return a request for comment Wednesday morning.

Whiting stock cratered 43% to 38 cents per share as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The global oil industry has been under significant pressure since the U.S., United Kingdom and other major European economies implemented varying levels of stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus last month. Meanwhile, a production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia that began last month has flooded a market where demand is low, forcing near 50% drops in prices over the course of the month.

Brent crude, an international benchmark for oil prices, was trading at just below $25 per barrel as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, while West Texas Intermediate, the benchmark for American-produced oil, was trading at around $20.50 per barrel, according to commodity price indices from Bloomberg.

Those effects are particularly felt in Weld County, by far the largest producer of conventional energy in Colorado. In recent days, Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY), the largest producer by volume in the state, cut its production by 6% across all of its wells. Meanwhile, second-largest producer PDC Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: PDCE) said it would cut its capital spending and slow the rate of new rig installations through the year.

Fellow Weld County producer Noble Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: NBL) said yesterday it would move 30% of its staff to unpaid furlough or part-time hours starting next week and through the next 90 days to six months.

 

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