May 15, 2019
Pennsylvania-based Edgemarc Energy Holdings LLC and its eight affiliated debtor affiliates are the latest in a string of oil and gas related bankruptcy filings. Don’t let $73/barrel brent crude and $63/barrel West Texas Intermediate prices full you: this is one of many oil and gas filings on the near term horizon.
Edgemarc is a natural gas E&P company focused on the Appalachian Basin in Ohio and Pennsylvania; it and its affiliates control approximately 45k net acres and have drilled and developed 60 producing wells. Now, everyone knows that, right now, the Permian Basin in West Texas is the shizz and, therefore, hearing about the Appalachian Basin may put some of you on edge. But, here, there was an extraordinary externality that really helped push the company into bankruptcy, other more macro factors notwithstanding.
In September 2018, a pipeline and gathering system under construction by a third-party (ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC) exploded. This pipeline was meant to be the gathering and processing avenue for the debtors’ natural gas. Imagine spending a ton of time milking a farm full of cows only to have the production facility designed for processing and transporting the milk explode right as you were about to bring your product to market. Kinda hard to make money in that scenario, right? The same applies to drilling for natural gas: its hard to generate revenue when you can’t process, transport and sell it. And, unfortunately, repair hasn’t been easy: what was supposed to be a “within weeks” project now looks poised to push well into 2020.
According to the debtors, a subsequent dispute with ETC prevented the debtors from flowing their gas through alternative pipelines. Consequently, the debtors “had no other means of selling gas from the affected wells” and opted to “shut in” their Pennsylvania wells and pause all remaining Pennsylvania operations — a hit to 33% of the company’s production activity. Compounding matters, the debtors and ETC are now embroiled in litigation. 😬
Suffice it to say that any company that suddenly loses the ability to sell 33% of its product will struggle. Per the company:
The Debtors’ inability to sell gas from their Pennsylvania properties had a substantial negative impact on their liquidity and ability to satisfy their funded debt, contractual and other payment obligations.
Ya think?!?!? The debtors have approximately $77mm of funded debt; they also has fixed transportation services agreements pursuant to which they agreed to fixed amounts of transportation capacity with various counterparties that exposes the debtors to financial liability regardless of whether they actually transport nat gas. This is so critical, in fact, that the debtors have already filed motions seeking to reject transportation services agreements with Rover Pipeline LLC, Rockies Express Pipeline LLC, and Texas Gas Transmission LLC. Combined, those three entities constitute 3 of the top 4 creditors of the estate, to the tune of over $6mm. These obligations — along with a downward redetermination of the borrowing base under the debtors’ revolving credit facility — severely constrained the debtors’ ability to operate. The debtors have, therefore, filed for chapter 11 with the hope of finding a buyer; they do not have a stalking horse purchaser lined up (though they do have a commitment for a $107.79mm DIP from their prepetition lenders, of which $30mm is new money). The company generated consolidated net revenue of $116.9mm in fiscal 2018.
Significantly, the company is seeking to reject a “marketing service agreement” and “operational agency agreement” with BP Energy Company ($BP), pursuant to which BP agreed to purchase and receive 100% of the debtors’ nat gas capacity. We gather (see what we did there?) that it’s hard to perform under those agreements when you can’t transport your product: accordingly, BP is listed as the debtors’ largest unsecured creditor at ~$41mm. BP’s rights to setoff and/or recoupment (PETITION Note: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP just happened to write about these two remedies this week here) will be a major facet of this case: if BP is able to exercise remedies, the debtors ability to operate post-restructuring will be threatened. Per the company:
The privately-held company is owned primarily by affiliates of Goldman Sachs and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension. Absent “holdup value,” we can’t imagine they’ll get any return on their investment given the circumstances.
Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Shannon)
Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Darren Klein, Lara Samet Buchwald, Aryeh Falk, Jonah Peppiatt) & (local) Landis Rath & Cobb (Adam Landis, Kerri Mumford, Kimberly Brown, Holly Smith)
Directors: Patrick J. Bartels Jr., Scott Lebovitz, Sebastien Gagnon, Baird Whitehead, Zvi Orvitz, Romeo Leemrijse, Verlyn Holt, Jack Golden, George Dotson, Callum Streeter, Alan Shepard
Financial Advisor: Opportune LLC and Dacarba LLC
Investment Banker: Evercore Partners
Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)
Other Parties in Interest:
Prepetition & DIP Agent: Keybank NA
Legal: Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP (Timothy Davidson, Joseph Rovira) & (local) Connolly Gallagher LLP (Jeffrey Wisler)
Equityholders: Goldman Sachs & Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board
Legal: Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz (Richard Mason, Emil Kleinhaus, Michael Cassel) & (local) Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Steven Kortanek, Patrick Jackson, Joseph Argentina Jr.)
Legal: Akerman LLP (John MItchell, David Parham, Yelena Archiyan) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, TImothy Cairns)