Current Issues in Oil and Gas Bankruptcies
Oil, gas and energy are the hottest areas in bankruptcy right now. As this is an industry that suffers from volatile market conditions, with its earnings linked to ever-depleting reserves, companies involved in or dependent on the exploration, development and production of oil and gas present unique issues for the bankruptcy practitioner. This panel includes the viewpoints of legal professionals from both the debtor and the creditor sides, an economist focused on the oil and gas sector, and a trust administrator with a large energy portfolio under management. The presentation will start with an introduction to oil and gas chapter 11 cases, identifying the players, the lexicon and the deal documents. The focus will then turn to the impact of the Bankruptcy Code on title to oil and gas interests, liens that can interfere with the estate’s rights, determination about whether oil and gas industry contracts are executory contracts (including assumption or rejection of midstream gathering agreements and oil and gas leases), the impact of § 541(b)(4) provisions that exclude from property of the estate certain rights of holders of farmed-out agreements and production payments, and plugging and abandonment obligations. Finally, the panel discusses how the industry got to its present state, its outlook going forward, and how market turmoil has impacted related sectors such as power generation.