[Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:55 p.m. CT Oct. 1.]
Lonestar Resources US Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 1, joining a clutch of shale companies that have succumbed to weak crude prices as COVID-19 pandemic crimps fuel demand.
Lonestar, which operates in Texas' Eagle Ford basin and produced roughly 14,000 boe/d, had a total debt of $546.3 million as of June 30 and made the move after defaulting on two debt payments.
Shares of the company fell 13% to 20 cents, shrinking its market capitalization to just over $5 million from nearly $350 million at its peak in 2014.
Weak crude demand due to the pandemic has proved to be a double-whammy for shale companies, which grew rapidly early in the decade but in the process amassed a large pile of debt.
Through the end of August, 36 oil and gas producers with $51 billion debt have filed for bankruptcy this year, according to the law firm Haynes and Boone.
It includes Chesapeake Energy Inc., Chaparral Energy LLC and Whiting Petroleum Corp. Oasis Petroleum Inc. filed for Chapter 11 on Sept. 30.
Industry experts expect more companies to file for bankruptcy before the year is over.
Gas producer Gulfport Energy Corp., which has hired a debt restructuring adviser, has interest payments on its debt due on Oct. 15, Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.
The upcoming biannual review of how much money energy companies can borrow against the value of their oil and gas reserves can also push some of the smaller companies, already struggling to find other methods of financing, into bankruptcy.
Lonestar's focus is on its Eagle Ford Shale position located in South Texas. As of year-end 2019, the company operated 84% of its Eagle Ford position and 93% of the net acreage was HBP, according to Lonestar's website.
Some good oil and gas companies will fall by the wayside, which is a disappointing thing, terrible for employees and investors. But for those who remain, new efficiencies and better responses will propel them to greater heights. In this way, the one good side effect of this awful downturn—disciplined focus—will last.
Oil companies last quarter continued to suffer from weak prices for their products, but rivals Chevron, Shell and BP also posted higher-than-expected results after deep cost cuts this year.
More than 400,000 oil and gas sector jobs have been cut this year, according to Rystad Energy, with about half of those in the U.S., where several big exploration companies and most large oil service companies are headquartered.