[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the July 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

The pandemic fired away relentlessly at the oil and gas industry, shredding demand for transportation fuel and forcing retreats in staffing, rig counts and investor interest. The upstream sector was particularly shell-shocked, with Haynes and Boone LLP reporting that 54 E&Ps filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from the start of 2020 through first-quarter 2021, accounting for debt of more than $53 billion.

By contrast, only eight midstream companies filed for Chapter 11 during that time, with collective debt of less than $700 million. So, is it time for high-fives yet? How about a victory lap? Did the sector dodge a bullet?

“No,” said Ethan Bellamy, principal at BP Capital in Dallas. “I would say the best example of what the midstream has gone through would be the Chesapeake-Williams omnibus agreement.”

The deal is an example of what Bellamy calls “blend and extend.” Sometimes, survival is not just about being the fittest but about figuring out how to get by in tough circumstances.

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