COMMITTMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2019
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
Plugging and Abandonment Funds
In connection with the Company’s acquisition in 1997 of the remaining 50% interest in its West Cote Blanche Bay ("WCBB") properties, the Company assumed the seller’s (Chevron) obligation to contribute approximately $18,000 per month through March 2004 to a plugging and abandonment trust and the obligation to plug a minimum of 20 wells per year for 20 years commencing March 11, 1997. Beginning in 2009, the Company could access the trust for use in plugging and abandonment charges associated with the property, although it has not yet done so. As of March 31, 2019, the plugging and abandonment trust totaled approximately $3.1 million. At March 31, 2019, the Company had plugged 555 wells at WCBB since it began its plugging program in 1997, which management believes fulfills its minimum plugging obligation.
Firm Transportation and Sales Commitments
The table below presents the firm sales commitments by year:
The table below presents the firm transportation commitments by year:
Effective October 1, 2014, the Company entered into a Sand Supply Agreement with Muskie Proppant LLC (“Muskie”), a subsidiary of Mammoth Energy, a related party. Effective August 3, 2018, the Company extended the agreement through December 31, 2021. Pursuant to this agreement, as amended, the Company has agreed to purchase annual and monthly amounts of proppant sand subject to exceptions specified in the agreement at agreed pricing plus agreed costs and expenses. Failure by either Muskie or the Company to deliver or accept the minimum monthly amount results in damages calculated per ton based on the difference between the monthly obligation amount and the amount actually delivered or accepted, as applicable. The Company incurred $0.3 million and $0.9 million in non-utilization fees under this agreement during the three months ended March 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Future minimum commitments under this agreement at March 31, 2019 are as follows:
In two separate complaints, one filed by the State of Louisiana and the Parish of Cameron in the 38th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Cameron on February 9, 2016 and the other filed by the State of Louisiana and the District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District of the State of Louisiana in the 15th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Vermilion on July 29, 2016, the Company was named as a defendant, among 26 oil and gas companies, in the Cameron Parish complaint and among more than 40 oil and gas companies in the Vermilion Parish complaint, or the Complaints. The Complaints were filed under the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978, as amended, and the rules, regulations, orders and ordinances adopted thereunder, which the Company referred to collectively as the CZM Laws, and allege that certain of the defendants’ oil and gas exploration, production and transportation operations associated with the development of the East Hackberry and West Hackberry oil and gas fields, in the case of the Cameron Parish complaint, and the Tigre Lagoon and Lac Blanc oil and gas fields, in the case of the Vermilion Parish complaint, were conducted in violation of the CZM Laws. The Complaints allege that such activities caused substantial damage to land and waterbodies located in the coastal zone of the relevant Parish, including due to defendants’ design, construction and use of waste pits and the alleged failure to properly close the waste pits and to clear, re-vegetate, detoxify and return the property affected to its original condition, as well as the defendants’ alleged discharge of waste into the coastal zone. The Complaints also allege that the defendants’ oil and gas activities have resulted in the dredging of numerous canals, which had a direct and significant impact on the state coastal waters within the relevant Parish and that the defendants, among other things, failed to design, construct and maintain these canals using the best practical techniques to prevent bank slumping, erosion and saltwater intrusion and to minimize the potential for inland movement of storm-generated surges, which activities allegedly have resulted in the erosion of marshes and the degradation of terrestrial and aquatic life therein. The Complaints also allege that the defendants failed to re-vegetate, refill, clean, detoxify and otherwise restore these canals to their original condition. In these two petitions, the plaintiffs seek damages and other appropriate relief under the CZM Laws, including the payment of costs necessary to clear, re-vegetate, detoxify and otherwise restore the affected coastal zone of the relevant Parish to its original condition, actual restoration of such coastal zone to its original condition, and the payment of reasonable attorney fees and legal expenses and pre-judgment and post judgment interest.
The Company was served with the Cameron complaint in early May 2016 and with the Vermilion complaint in early September 2016. The Louisiana Attorney General and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources intervened in both the Cameron Parish suit and the Vermilion Parish suit. Shortly after the Complaints were filed, certain defendants removed the cases to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. In both cases, the plaintiffs filed motions to remand the lawsuits to state court, which were ultimately granted by the district courts. However, on May 23, 2018, a group of defendants again removed the Cameron Parish and Vermilion Parish lawsuits to federal court. In response, the plaintiffs again filed motions to remand the cases to state court. The removing defendants have opposed plaintiffs’ motions to remand. The motions to remand remain pending, and further action in the cases will be stayed until the courts rule on the motions to remand. Also, shortly after the May 23, 2018 removal, the removing defendants filed motions with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (the “MDL Panel”) requesting that the Cameron Parish and Vermilion Parish lawsuits be consolidated with 40 similar lawsuits so that pre-trial proceedings in the cases could be coordinated. The MDL Panel denied the motion to consolidate the lawsuits. Due to the procedural posture of lawsuits, the cases are still in their early stages and the parties have conducted very little discovery. As a result, the Company has not had the opportunity to evaluate the applicability of the allegations made in plaintiffs' complaints to the Company's operations and management cannot determine the amount of loss, if any, that may result.
In addition, due to the nature of the Company’s business, it is, from time to time, involved in routine litigation or subject to disputes or claims related to its business activities, including workers’ compensation claims and employment related disputes. In the opinion of the Company’s management, none of the pending litigation, disputes or claims against the Company, if decided adversely, will have a material adverse effect on its financial condition, cash flows or results of operations.