Shale oil producer SandRidge Energy has filed for bankruptcy protection after agreeing with its creditors on a deal to restructure a balance sheet decimated by the oil price downturn.
Under the agreement, creditors would take control of SandRidge through a swap of $3.7 billion of its debt for equity. The company expects to go through the Chapter 11 process with “minimal disruption” to its business.
“We are pleased that our creditors recognize the long-term value SandRidge and its employees can create with an improved balance sheet,” CEO James Bennett said in a news release. “The new capital structure will allow the company to concentrate on oil and gas exploration and development in our active Oklahoma and Colorado project areas.”
SandRidge is one of the larger victims of an energy price crash that, according to Reuters, has now pushed more than 60 North American oil and gas producers to seek protection from creditors since early 2015. As of March 31, it had total assets of $7 billion and total debt of $4 billion.
The company warned in March there was “substantial doubt” it would survive the downturn despite cutting its capital spending by 69% in 2016.
“SandRidge epitomizes the oil industry’s boom-to-bust nature,” CNN Money reported. “The high-profile shale driller loaded up on debt when the going was good to pursue aggressive growth plans. Now it’s drowning under the weight of that debt, as oil prices have collapsed.”
“They borrowed money with $100 oil and they have to repay it with $40 oil,” said Buddy Clark, a partner at the law firm Haynes and Boone who specializes in energy finance.
Bankruptcy has become the recourse for many struggling energy companies because they have been unable to attract viable offers for their assets.
“Recent asset sales have been terrible and that’s why you’re seeing this wave of restructuring of debt rather than sales,” Deborah Williamson, a restructuring attorney at the Dykema law firm, told Reuters.