bankruptcy

Ultra's production and expected declines over 2020
SEC Filings

On May 14, Ultra Petroleum Corp. filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The largest natural gas producer and taxpayer in Wyoming operates exclusively in western Wyoming with 3000 producing wells in the Jonah and Pinedale fields. The company has 151 full-time employees.

WTI Crude pricing falling 20 percent since Friday, March 6.
oilprice.com

Oil prices fell 25 percent today in their steepest drop since 1991. The record stumble raises concerns of lasting impacts to Wyoming's revenue picture and energy producers in the state.

On January 27, oil and gas company Southland Royalty Company filed for bankruptcy. Wyoming's 15th largest natural gas producer said in a filing, "the debtor has suffered from the industry's general and sustained decline over the past several years." It went on to say the company would be taking drastic measures to get back to profitability.

Stephanie Joyce

In a flurry of court filings last week, Blackjewel LLC and related entities sought permission to investigate the company's former CEO and President Jeff A. Hoops over what it called "a years-long effort by Mr. Hoops to transfer tens of millions of dollars of the Debtors' assets for his benefit and the benefit of his family and other Hoops-Related Entities."

The Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies At Its Cheyenne Interim Meeting
Cooper McKim

Hours into a meeting of the Select Committee on Coal/Mineral Bankruptcies, Chairman Eric Barlow brought up a draft bill called "Protested Tax Payments." With little pause, Barlow welcomed in the day's regular testifiers.

An example of the itemized questioning by federal Judge Frank Volk of five group's expenses involved in the Blackjewel bankrutpcy
Prime Clerk

The federal judge overseeing Blackjewel's bankruptcy is disputing the "propriety and necessity" of noticeably high fees from attorneys and professionals.

In a court filing yesterday, Judge Frank Volk questioned restaurant, travel, and lodging expenses from five firms totaling $73,583. That included three law offices, a financial services group, and a research firm. It accounted for about 30 percent of the total expenses racked up by the groups in only four months since Blackjewel filed to reorganize.

Campbell County

Campbell County Commissioners have used a new law for the first time to recoup some of the county's legal fees from bankruptcies.

Coal mines north and east of Gillette Campbell County Airport, including the Eagle Butte Mine
Public Domain

Judge Frank Volk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has approved Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) as the buyer of Blackjewel's western assets including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines. ESM is an affiliate specifically formed by Ohio-based FM Coal to purchase the assets.

Campbell County Commission Meeting
Campbell County

Three months since Blackjewel LLC filed for bankruptcy, a new company is set to close a deal this week and take over the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. At a Campbell County Commission meeting, Carol Seeger, the county administrative director, said Eagle Specialty Materials LLC is expected to close on its sale order this Friday, October 4.

Cooper McKim

On a bright morning outside Gillette, Darlene Rea is getting ready to job search. She might visit Sheridan this afternoon. Until two months ago, Rea worked in Blackjewel's warehouse - receiving freight, writing invoices and finding parts. But since the coal company's abrupt bankruptcy, she's been stuck looking for work.

Contura Energy logo
Contura Energy

Three weeks after filing for Chapter 11 reorganization, coal company Blackjewel L.L.C. has a plan to keep operating some of its mines. Contura Energy is willing to put down the money to become the stalking horse bidder and potentially take over and operate several mines including Wyoming's Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr. Contura already holds the mining permits and reclamation bonds for the two mines.

Karin Kirk, Yale Climate Connections

In 2015 and 2016, three massive coal companies in Wyoming filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy: Arch Coal, Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy.

Rory Wallett stationed in his office since July 1. This is where he's spent most of his time coordinating with workers around the country
Cooper McKim

More than a week has passed since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy and sent home 576 workers. They're still waiting to hear if they're laid off or heading back to work soon. Employees are stuck in limbo, but many are not struggling to keep busy.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

The laid-off employees of bankrupt Blackjewel mining are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Hourly rates for Squire Patton Boggs attorneys, the debtors counsel
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel has yet to publicly announce any plans to reopen the gates at Eagle Butte or Belle Ayr mines this week. That would require a hearing to confirm long-term debtor-in-posession (DIP) financing - an elusive prospect for a company that's struggled to secure much cash in court.

Prime Clerk logo
Prime Clerk

It's been two days since Blackjewel LLC abruptly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and locked the gates at its two Wyoming mines. It turned out the West Virginia private company was in a more financially dire situation than many knew. The early stages did not go as planned, but the presiding judge has approved $5 million in interim funds.

Doc 14-2 Exhibit B - a map of Blackjewel's Wyoming assets
Prime Clerk

Blackjewel LLC, a West Virginia-based coal company, has voluntary filed for relief under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The company operates 32 properties and holds more than 500 mining permits around the country. Blackjewel acquired its two Wyoming assets, the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, in late 2017 through Alpha Natural Resources bankruptcy.

A few of the many letters requesting an equity committee on Cloud Peak's court docket
Prime Clerk

More than 300 individuals who own stock in Cloud Peak Energy are looking for a seat at the table in the coal giant’s bankruptcy. Together, the group owns more than 24 percent of Cloud Peak's stock. The shareholders are asking the court to appoint an equity committee to represent their interests.

S & P Global Market Intelligence

Back in November, Cloud Peak Energy announced it would consider significant changes to its business. At the time, it was weighted down by nearly $400 million in debt and weakening coal sales. The company was open to a buy-out, a sale of one or all of its coal mines, or finding a way to push back its debt. But nothing worked out. So, on May 10, Cloud Peak had no choice but to go bankrupt.

Screenshot from Cloud Peak's bankruptcy docket page
Prime Clerk

COUNTY TAXES
Last Friday, Cloud Peak Energy chose not pay county taxes to Campbell County. It currently owes a lot - about $8 million. The recently bankrupt coal giant also owes Converse County several million in county taxes that contribute to education funds in addition to county services.

The Cordero Rojo Mine - taken when Cloud Peak was still the operator
Cloud Peak Energy

One of the largest domestic coal companies has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Cloud Peak Energy warned of its financial problems in November of last year.

Cordero Rojo Mine Reclamation
Wyoming Mining Association

A struggling Powder River Basin coal company has put off two interest payments again. It will be the fourth extension. One is for debt due in 2021 and the other for 2024. Cloud Peak Energy negotiated with debt holders to put off paying until May 10. Past extensions have lasted a month, two weeks and one week.

The Cordero Rojo Mine - taken when Cloud Peak was still the operator
Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy has worked with debt holders to secure its third extension on a $1.8 million interest payment on a debt that's due in 2024. The long-struggling Powder River Basin coal producer extended the termination date of an agreement to pay part of its debt to May 7. A default on the payment would likely trigger a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Nolan Behnke

 

2018 was not a good year for Cloud Peak Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal companies that employs 1,300 people with two mines in Wyoming. It sold 15 percent less coal, Asian markets had plummeted for the resource, and the value of its stock fell by half. All that happened by October. That month, executives held a call with stock analysts. In the recording, Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall focused the conversation on weather challenges.

United Mine Workers of America logo
United Mine Workers of America

Retirees of the Kemmerer Coal Mine won't be getting their expected health-care benefits, but the United Mine Workers of America aren't giving up. 

Donlin Recano

Two years ago, Jim Bills retired from the Kemmerer mine in Southwestern Wyoming.

"After spending seven years in the Air Force, I spent 36 years with Westmoreland coal," he said.

Bills worked as a laborer, truck driver, and driller. His son works there now, too. Bills recalls watching retirees taken care of year-after-year. He was excited when his time finally came.

Comparison of benefits treatment in bankruptcies
Peter Morgan / Sierra Club

Filings from Westmoreland show it’s taking a different approach to its financial obligations from other recently bankrupt coal companies. The coal company is seeking to default on nearly $400 million owed in pension funds, black lung claims and retiree healthcare benefits. Three other coal companies, Alpha, Peabody and Arch all passed along those obligations to re-organization debtors with value reduced in some cases.

Gary Kohn, the Chief Financial Officer of Westmoreland Coal Company, has announced his resignation effective January 4 of 2019. In a statement released by the company, he's leaving for personal reasons.

OTCMKTS: WLBAQ

In southwest Wyoming, the Kemmerer coal mine is the largest contributor of tax revenue to Lincoln County and a big employer. It's owned by Westmoreland Coal Company, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's one of the largest and oldest coal producers on the continent and some think it's another sign coal markets are not bouncing back, despite the Trump administration's efforts.

Westmoreland Coal

Westmoreland Coal Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. It operates in five states, including Wyoming, with a large mine near Kemmerer employing around 280 people. The company’s debt has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s lost nearly all of its share price value.

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