Is Cabot O&G Sniffing Around Chesapeake Energy’s Shale Assets?

A warning right up front: This post is speculation and rumor. As you know if you’ve read MDN (or any other media source covering oil and gas in the past two weeks), on June 28 Chesapeake Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Files for Bankruptcy – Debtors to Take Ownership). With something like $11 billion in outstanding debt and a market value of just over $100 million (a tiny fraction of the debt), it’s obvious debtors will take over the company. What happens then? We spotted a rumor that Cabot Oil & Gas may be interested in a purchase.
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Revisiting the PA AG Royalty Case Against Chesapeake Energy

It’s time to revisit a long-festering royalty lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko Petroleum filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. The case has been through several layers of courts and finally ended up at the PA Supreme Court last fall (see PA Supremes to Consider Long-Running Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit). The lawsuit hinges on the answer to this question: Are landowners/royalty owners the buyers or the sellers in cases of royalty leases?
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Why Chesapeake Likely Won’t be Able to Cancel Pipe Contracts

On Sunday, June 28, Chesapeake Energy, with major operations in the northeast Pennsylvania Marcellus, filed for bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Files for Bankruptcy – Debtors to Take Ownership). As part of the filing, the company asked the bankruptcy court to allow it to break existing, legal, enforceable contracts with several pipeline companies (see Chesapeake Asks Court to Break Pipeline Contracts, Including M-U). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is saying “not so fast, you need our blessing first” before those contracts can be altered.
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Chesapeake Bankruptcy Puts PA Landowner Royalty Lawsuits on Hold

On Sunday a week ago (June 28) Chesapeake Energy filed for bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Files for Bankruptcy – Debtors to Take Ownership). As part of the filing, the company asked the bankruptcy court to allow it to break existing, legal, enforceable contracts with pipeline companies (see Chesapeake Asks Court to Break Pipeline Contracts, Including M-U). We’re just now learning the company’s filing also puts on hold lawsuits brought by landowners against it over Chessy’s royalty shenanigans. The cases on hold include a case brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office argued before the PA Supreme Court in May (see PA Supremes Hear Oral Arguments in Can of Worms Royalty Lawsuit).
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Chesapeake Sues FERC in Bid to Break Pipeline Contracts

Earlier this week MDN brought you the news that Chesapeake Energy is asking a bankruptcy court in Texas for permission to break valid and legal contracts with several pipeline companies as part of its financial reorganization plan (see Chesapeake Asks Court to Break Pipeline Contracts, Including M-U). Just coming to light (for us) is that as part of the bankruptcy filing, Chessy is challenging (suing) the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to prevent FERC from making Chessy live up to its contractual agreements.
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Chesapeake Asks Court to Break Pipeline Contracts, Including M-U

We’ll try not to sound arrogant, but once again *only* MDN nailed it–which is why you subscribe, right? Yesterday we brought you the news that Chesapeake Energy has finally filed for bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Files for Bankruptcy – Debtors to Take Ownership). In our opening paragraph, we told pipeline companies according to the language we read in the press release, that Chessy is “looking to break existing contracts, using the bankruptcy filing as an excuse.” And guess what? That is exactly what happened, including a request to break a contract with Crestwood’s Stagecoach Pipeline in the Marcellus/Utica.
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Chesapeake Files for Bankruptcy – Debtors to Take Ownership

We’ve told you for months to expect it. Yesterday (on Sunday) Chesapeake Energy finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after lining up a $925 million loan to keep the doors open, the lights on, and the drill bits chewing away. Pipeline companies (and other vendors) that have contracts with the company should be concerned. The opening paragraph of Chessy’s press release says, “Chesapeake intends to use the proceedings to strengthen its balance sheet and restructure its legacy contractual obligations to achieve a more sustainable capital structure.” That means they’re looking to break existing contracts, using the bankruptcy filing as an excuse.
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Chesapeake Misses Interest Payment, Line of Credit Drops $700M

Chesapeake’s Stock performance last 6 months (click for larger version)

On Monday Chesapeake Energy missed making two scheduled interest payments owed to the company’s noteholders totaling $13.5 million according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made yesterday. The company also reported to the SEC that its “borrowing base” (value of assets against which they can borrow, or their “line of credit”) has taken a hit too. Previously the borrowing base was $3 billion. It’s now $2.3 billion. Poof–$700 million disappeared just like that. The stock market pegs the value of the company, the company’s market capitalization, at $127 million. Given it carries debts of $9 billion, well, you do the math.
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Reuters: Chesapeake Energy May File for Bankruptcy This Week

We’ve been on bankruptcy watch for Chesapeake Energy for some time now. We told you yesterday that the company faced a $17 million debt payment deadline yesterday, and faces a $134 million bond interest payment on July 1 (see Doug Lawler Drilled Chesapeake’s Grave – Not Aubrey McClendon). If the company is going to declare bankruptcy, it will likely be very soon. Reuters, which is the best of the major mainstream news services (most reliable in many ways) is reporting sources are telling them the company is getting ready to file for bankruptcy “as soon as this week.”
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Doug Lawler Drilled Chesapeake’s Grave – Not Aubrey McClendon

Chesapeake Energy faces a series of deadlines to make payments to debtors. Today, June 15, is the first such deadline when something like $17 million in interest payments is owed. The company has a $134 million bond interest payment due on July 1 for its second-lien notes. Between today and the end of the month, rumor has it the company will declare bankruptcy (see Chesapeake Stock Soars, Bankruptcy Rumors Soar Too). It is possible for Chessy to delay a bankruptcy filing for an extra 30 days, until the end of July, if they exercise a “grace period.”
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Chesapeake’s Wild Stock Ride Continued Yesterday – Down 66%

Yesterday MDN brought you the news that Chesapeake Energy’s stock price had risen some 500% over the previous two days (see Chesapeake Stock Soars, Bankruptcy Rumors Soar Too). We also told you that a single news story, by the leftists at Bloomberg, published early yesterday in an attempt to splash a bucket of cold water on Chessy’s good fortune, claimed “sources” say the company will soon declare bankruptcy with a plan to shaft existing stockholders and instead give most of the equity in the company to debtholders. That one Bloomberg story caused Chesapeake’s stock to lose two-thirds (66%) of its value yesterday in a wild ride down.
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Chesapeake Stock Soars, Bankruptcy Rumors Soar Too

click for larger version

Chesapeake Energy’s stock went on a wild roller coaster ride yesterday. Over the past two days, the company’s stock rose by nearly 500% in value. Trading of the stock was halted 22 times yesterday for volatility. Chessy stock hit an all-time low of $8.41/share on May 14, the equivalent of a pre-reverse split price of just 4 cents per share–essentially worthless. The company’s shares rose over the past few days on the news that OPEC is extending its production cuts, boosting the price of oil. Right on cue, Bloomberg arrived early this morning with a story to throw cold water on Chessy’s rekindled stock–a story that the company has a plan to declare bankruptcy and turn current debtholders into the new owners, making all of those red hot shares of stock worthless. Bloomberg’s bankruptcy news sent the stock price down in pre-hours trading this morning.
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PA Supremes Hear Oral Arguments in Can of Worms Royalty Lawsuit

On Wednesday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging whether or not the state Attorney General’s office has the right to use a consumer protection law to prosecute companies like Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko over royalty payment shenanigans. The law the AG’s office wants to use has never been used that way before. According to legal experts, drillers are very concerned if the AG’s office wins this one, as we reported last November (see Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit at PA Supreme Court – Can of Worms?).
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OH Landowner Loses Post-Production Royalty Case to Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy keeps winning Ohio royalty lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In March the company beat a lawsuit by a group of Ohio landowners who claimed Chessy had cheated them out of a collective $30 million in royalties (see Chesapeake Energy & Total Beat Class Action Royalty Lawsuit in OH). In April Chesapeake won a second lawsuit that claimed the company had fraudulently concealed information on royalty statements dating back to 1993 (see Chesapeake Beats Another OH Royalty Lawsuit in Federal Court). And now, a third royalty lawsuit has gone Chessy’s way too. Strike three for landowners.
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M-U Drillers See New Interest from Bond (Debt) Investors

Wow! What a difference three months can make. In January Moody’s Investors Service downgraded EQT Corporation’s bonds to “junk” status (see Moody’s Downgrades EQT Debt to Junk Status Following Write-Down). A few weeks later Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings downgraded the credit rating for six of the biggest Marcellus/Utica drillers, including EQT (see S&P Downgrades Credit Rating for Six Big Marcellus/Utica Drillers). Once thought risky and speculative, investors seem to have changed their minds about investing in M-U debt. They’re taking a second look.
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