Venoco Files Chapter 11 Due to Oil Price Slump

The Denver company says the declining price of oil and the closure of a key pipeline "continue to be serious problems."
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 18, 2016

Venoco on Friday became the latest victim of low oil prices, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection so it can implement a reorganization plan.

The Denver-based oil and gas producer said it had reached an agreement with its senior lenders that would eliminate roughly $1 billion of debt from its balance sheet.

“Today’s announcement represents another significant step in our ongoing efforts to address the challenges before us and position the company for long-term success,” Venoco CEO Mark DePuy said in a news release.

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“After carefully evaluating our options, we have determined that the agreement to restructure our balance sheet and reduce our debt represents the best way to strengthen our finances and position ourselves for the future,” he added.

Venoco’s main assets are located both onshore and offshore in Southern California. Its debt includes $175 million in 12% first-lien senior secured notes due 2019, $164.1 million in second-lien secured notes, $308.2 million in 8.875% senior notes and $303 million outstanding under another set it refers to as senior PIK toggle notes.

The company missed a $13.7 million interest payment last month and had been trying to cut a deal with creditors by Thursday.

“Competitors such as Energy XXI Ltd., SandRidge Energy Inc. and Goodrich Petroleum Corp. have all announced missed debt payments, as the market braces for what is expected to be a $19 billion wave of defaults in the sector,” the Denver Post said.

More than 40 energy-related firms have sought bankruptcy protection since oil prices started plummeting in mid-2014.

Venoco operates in environmentally sensitive areas, becoming one of the largest producers in California. But its output has been hit by the closure of the Plains All-American pipeline, which was shut down last May after a spill fouled beaches near Santa Barbara.

“While we continue to be in a strong cash position, the declining price of oil and the ongoing closure of Plains All American pipeline 901 continue to be serious problems,” DePuy said.