bankruptcy

Map of Westmoreland's assets from its 10K filing
Westmoreland Coal Company

The Western Organization of Resource Councils, WORC, believes a coal company that could soon face bankruptcy may not have sufficient funds to pay for mine clean-up costs. A spokeswoman for Westmoreland Coal Company said they are, however, in full compliance with bonding and reclamation regulations.

Kemmerer Mine
Westmorealnd Coal Company

One of the largest producers of coal in the country may soon face Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Westmoreland Coal Company's stock has been in free fall over the last year and several of its primary customers are moving away from coal.

A look at the trajectory of Westmoreland Coal Company's Market Summary
NASDAQ

In the past year, Westmoreland Coal Company’s stock price has dropped 97 percent, and, on Wednesday, April 25th, the company will be removed from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange with shares hovering around 20 cents. But that’s just a symptom of a larger trend for the company. 

Nearly a year after filing, Peabody Coal has emerged from bankruptcy by reducing its debt by$5 billion and by providing third party bonding for mine restoration. That’s according to a company press release this week.

Rob Godby, director at the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, said the key was a reduction in the company's costs in Australia. According to Godby, Peabody sank a lot of debt into expanding its market there, but that was only one reason they went bankrupt.

West Virginia regulators have filed a complaint accusing several top executives of the newly-formed coal mining company Contura of committing fraud.

Contura was created as a new company during Alpha Natural Resources' bankruptcy this year. Contura’s main assets are Alpha’s former mines in Wyoming and its leadership team is composed of former Alpha executives.

Wikipedia

The oil and gas company Battalion Resources filed for bankruptcy on September 8. The filing included three of its subsidiaries, including Storm Cat Energy, which owns hundreds of oil and gas wells in Wyoming. Court documents show the company has $83 million in debt and only brought in $8.4 million in revenue in 2015.

Coal giant Peabody Energy is asking a bankruptcy court to approve up to $11.9 million in bonuses for six top executives.

Peabody Energy / Wikimedia Commons

Peabody Energy has reached a deal with regulators in several states over its outstanding cleanup obligations. 

Peabody declared bankruptcy in April with more than $1 billion in self-bonded reclamation obligations at its mines in Wyoming, Indiana, New Mexico and Illinois. Self-bonding means the company has promised that it will meet its future clean-up obligations, but has not put up any financial guarantees to secure that promise. Peabody has more than $700 million in self-bonded reclamation in Wyoming alone. 

Arch Coal filed an updated version of its plan to get out of bankruptcy today. This legal wrangling is the company’s latest effort to get everyone to agree on a repayment plan.  

Arch Coal’s new restructuring plan outlines how various creditors would be paid, or not paid, if the plan is approved.

In a statement, Arch Coal wrote that a group of its senior lenders do support the plan. But not all of the company’s creditors are on board. Some have even threatened to sue. 

Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons

The outlook for the North American coal sector is negative. That's according to a bleak industry report released by the credit ratings agency Moody’s, on Friday.  

 

Wyoming’s largest gas producer said Friday it may file for bankruptcy.

Ultra Petroleum disclosed the possibility of bankruptcy in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ultra has substantial debts from large purchases of oil and gas reserves in recent years and is struggling to pay back those debts with current low natural gas and crude oil prices.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Gail Japp’s bright blue eyes are the kind you keep on noticing. I met the 64-year-old at her home outside of Gillette, Wyoming on a gray, windy, day in April. She had just finishing filling out unemployment paperwork.

Japp is one of the 235 coal miners who were laid off by Peabody Energy in March. Arch Coal cut around 230 positions that same week.

I asked her how she felt that day. Her reply: “Devastated, scared. What in the world am I gonna do? I’m single. I’m 64. I have a mortgage. Am I gonna lose my house?”

ecowatch.com

The largest coal producer in Wyoming declared bankruptcy this week. Companies like Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources have done so as well over the past year, but this filing is particularly symbolic of the industry’s struggles, because of the company’s size. Peabody Energy is the largest privately-owned coal company in the world. Our Inside Energy reporter Leigh Paterson joins Bob Beck. 

Wikipedia Creative Commons

What does bankruptcy actually mean on the ground?

For now, not very much. In Chapter 11 bankruptcy a company reorganizes but doesn’t shut down. In a statement, Peabody said it plans to continue operating its mines as usual while it restructures.

GOOGLE EARTH

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday. The filing comes on the heels of several other bankruptcy declarations from major coal companies, including Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources.

Peabody Energy / Wikimedia Commons

Last Friday, anyone driving past the Holiday Inn Express in Douglas, Wyoming, might have remarked on the large number of American-made pickup trucks in the parking lot. If they stuck around for a while, they would have seen that most of those pickup trucks belonged to stoney-faced men, who emerged from the hotel one-by-one, clutching blue folders.

“They put us all in one room and they told us all they were sorry, it was a layoff,” Kyle Christiansen recounted.

Alpha Natural Resources is asking a bankruptcy judge for permission to cancel certain labor union agreements and to cut retiree benefits. 

 

Recent court documents show that Arch Coal paid executives more than $8 million in bonuses just days before the company declared bankruptcy. 

Arch Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early January. In the days leading up to that filing, the company gave its CEO John Eaves, a bonus of $2.7 million and made payments to other top executives.

ecowatch.com

In financial documents filed this week, one of the largest coal companies in the world warned that it may file for bankruptcy, in part, because the company may not be able to make upcoming debt payments.

Just this week, Peabody Energy missed around $70 million dollars worth of interest payments and instead chose to take advantage of a 30-day grace period. 

Alpha Natural Resources filed a plan today outlining how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy. At the heart of the plan is a proposal to sell the company's core assets, including its Wyoming mines.

Google Earth

Peabody Energy is one of the largest coal companies in the world and operates mines all over the United States. But some of its senior lenders are now recommending bankruptcy, as the company faces potential defaults on several loans.

The coal industry's slide continues as one of the nation's largest producers reported a loss of over $2 billion in 2015. 

Peabody Energy has extensive mining operations across the US and Australia. But its stock price plummeted in 2015 and the company’s Wyoming coal production was down around four percent from the year before. During the company's quarterly earnings call, executives broke with tradition and declined to take questions due to quote sensitive timing. Here’s CEO Glenn Kellow.

A bankruptcy judge has authorized up to $12 million dollars in bonuses for executives of the bankrupt coal mining company Alpha Natural Resources.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

The federal government has come out strongly against a proposal by bankrupt coal miner Alpha Natural Resources to pay its executives up to $12 million in bonuses. 

In filings with the bankruptcy court, the United States Trustee, an arm of the Department of Justice, excoriates the proposed bonuses, saying they are completely unjustified.

Another coal giant, with operations all over the US, declared bankruptcy today.

St. Louis-based Arch Coal hopes to get rid of $4.5 billion dollars in debt through this Chapter 11 reorganization. The company mines coal in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, and Appalachian states and says it expects operations to continue during bankruptcy proceedings.

 

U.S. coal production in 2015 was lower than it has been in nearly 30 years, according to a report released by the Energy Information Administration today. 

EIA data projects that the U.S. produced 10% less coal in 2015 than it did the year before. Analysts attribute this drop to a combination of low natural gas prices, a slowing of international demand, and environmental regulations. Brian Park, an industry economist on the EIA's coal statistics team says Appalachia has been hit hardest by far. Wyoming's Powder River Basin in comparison, has lower operating costs.

Google Earth

Standing on a windy stretch of highway with Karla Oksanen, we peer into a vast, dark, open-pit mine near Gillette, Wyo. She and her husband live so close to Eagle Butte Mine that when operators detonate dynamite to clear dirt away from the coal seams, they can feel it.

“The shaking from the blasts, yeah,” Oksanen said with a laugh. “It’s kind of like an earthquake!”

archcoal.com

After reporting a $2 billion loss in the third quarter, Arch Coal says it could declare bankruptcy in "the near term."

Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons

A bankrupt coal company has proposed cutting a variety of medical benefits for retired workers in order to improve its balance sheet. 

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