An Overview for Oil & Gas Companies
For oil & gas companies, the decision to file for bankruptcy does not necessarily signal the demise of the business. If executed properly, Chapter 11 reorganization affords a financially distressed or insolvent company an opportunity to restructure its liabilities and emerge from the proceedings as a viable going concern. Although the Chapter 11 process can seem burdensome, a rigorous assessment of cash flows, and a company’s capital structure can help the company as it develops a plan for years of future success. The purpose of this post is to provide an explanation of the key valuation-related steps of a Chapter 11 restructuring and help managers realize this potential.
The recent historic decline in oil prices has strained the balance sheets of E&P companies. Whiting Petroleum Corporation, the first publicly traded U.S. E&P company to declare bankruptcy in 2020, announced its Chapter 11 reorganization process on April 1. More are expected to follow.
Despite a much more benign commodity price environment of ~$50-$60/bbl in 2019, a number of E&P companies declared bankruptcy last year and have seen their reorganization processes derailed in 2020 as a result of low oil prices.
Times are tumultuous for the oil and gas industry. News earlier this month was met with no rise in West Texas Intermediate pricing at the time. It hovered around $20.00 per barrel. Last week it fell to the seemingly unconscionable negative territory. It was worse in other places. In Western Canada heavy select oil was around $4.50 per barrel and dropped to $0 last week. It went negative as well. World demand for oil has dropped somewhere between 20% and 35% by some estimations, and excess supply has been building for weeks.
Something must give, and something will. While global supply and demand imbalance has the industry scrambling in unseen territory, how does this convert to what upstream companies and reserves are worth amid the situation? Is it a 1:1 price to value change ratio? Depending on perspective, the answer is both simple and complicated.
In this post we examine the macroeconomic factors that have affected prices in this first quarter.