Commitments and Contingencies
|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2013
|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 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. Chevron retained a security interest in production from these properties until abandonment obligations to Chevron have been fulfilled. 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, 2013, the plugging and abandonment trust totaled approximately $3.1 million. At March 31, 2013, the Company had plugged 354 wells at WCBB since it began its plugging program in 1997, which management believes fulfills its current minimum plugging obligation.
Effective November 1, 2012, the Company entered into employment agreements with its executive officers, each with an initial three-year term that expires on November 1, 2015 subject to automatic one-year extensions unless terminated by either party to the agreement at least 90 days prior to the end of the then current term. These agreements provide for minimum salary and bonus levels which are subject to review and potential increase by the Compensation Committee and/or the Board of Directors, as well as participation in the Company's Amended and Restated 2005 Stock Incentive Plan (or other equity incentive plans that may be put in place for the benefit of employees) and other employee benefits. The aggregate minimum commitment for future salaries and bonuses at March 31, 2013 was approximately $7.6 million.
On October 5, 2012, the Company entered into an agreement with Grizzly in which it committed to make monthly payments from October 2012 to May 2013 to fund the construction and development of the Algar Lake facility. The Company also agreed to fund its proportionate share of any unfunded cost overruns. The remaining aggregate commitment including the Company's share of cost overruns at March 31, 2013 was approximately $12.4 million.
The Company leases office facilities under non-cancellable operating leases exceeding one year. Future minimum lease commitments under these leases at March 31, 2013 are as follows:
The Louisiana Department of Revenue (“LDR”) is disputing Gulfport’s severance tax payments to the State of Louisiana from the sale of oil under fixed price contracts during the years 2005 to 2007. The LDR maintains that Gulfport paid approximately $1.8 million less in severance taxes under fixed price terms than the severance taxes Gulfport would have had to pay had it paid severance taxes on the oil at the contracted market rates only. Gulfport has denied any liability to the LDR for underpayment of severance taxes and has maintained that it was entitled to enter into the fixed price contracts with unrelated third parties and pay severance taxes based upon the proceeds received under those contracts. Gulfport has maintained its right to contest any final assessment or suit for collection if brought by the State. On April 20, 2009, the LDR filed a lawsuit in the 15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish, in Louisiana against Gulfport seeking $2.3 million in severance taxes, plus interest and court costs. Gulfport filed a response denying any liability to the LDR for underpayment of severance taxes and is defending itself in the lawsuit. The LDR had taken no further action on this lawsuit since filing its petition other than propounding discovery requests to which Gulfport has responded. Since serving discovery requests on the LDR and receiving the LDR's responses in 2012, there has been no further activity on the case and no trial date has been set.
In December 2010, the LDR filed two identical lawsuits against Gulfport in different venues to recover allegedly underpaid severance taxes on crude oil for the period January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010, together with a claim for attorney’s fees. The petitions do not make any specific claim for damages or unpaid taxes. As with the first lawsuit filed by the LDR in 2009, Gulfport denies all liability and will vigorously defend the lawsuit. The cases are in the early stages, and Gulfport has not yet filed a response to the recent lawsuits. The LDR filed motions to stay the lawsuits before Gulfport filed any responsive pleadings. The LDR has advised Gulfport that it intends to pursue settlement discussions with Gulfport and other similarly situated defendants in separate proceedings, but has taken no action to initiate settlement talks. There has been no activity on either of these lawsuits for two years.
In November 2006, Cudd Pressure Control, Inc. (“Cudd”) filed a lawsuit against Gulfport, Great White Pressure Control LLC (“Great White”) and six former Cudd employees in the 129th Judicial District Harris County, Texas. This case went to trial on September 5, 2012 and on September 28, 2012 the jury rendered its verdict, awarding no damages to the plaintiffs. Gulfport along with all defendants filed a Motion for Entry of Judgment that is consistent with the jury's verdict. Cudd filed an Application for Disgorgement and a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict. The court denied all of Cudd's post-trial motions on October 12, 2012, and the court issued its final judgment on January 10, 2013. On that same day, Cudd filed motions for a new trial and to modify, correct or reform the judgment. In April 2013, the parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice and the proceedings are now concluding.
On July 30, 2010, six individuals and one limited liability company sued 15 oil and gas companies in Cameron Parish Louisiana for surface contamination in areas where the defendants operated in an action entitled Reeds et al. v. BP American Production Company et al.,38th Judicial District. No. 10-18714. The plaintiffs’ original petition for damages, which did not name Gulfport as a defendant, alleges that the plaintiffs’ property located in Cameron Parish, Louisiana within the Hackberry oil field is contaminated as a result of historic oil and gas exploration and production activities. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants conducted, directed and participated in various oil and gas exploration and production activities on their property which allegedly have contaminated or otherwise caused damage to the property, and have sued the defendants for alleged breaches of oil, gas and mineral leases, as well as for alleged negligence, trespass, failure to warn, strict liability, punitive damages, lease liability, contract liability, unjust enrichment, restoration damages, assessment and response costs and stigma damages. On December 7, 2010, Gulfport was served with a copy of the plaintiffs’ first supplemental and amending petition which added four additional plaintiffs and six additional defendants, including Gulfport, bringing the total number of defendants to 21. It also increased the total acreage at issue in this litigation from 240 acres to approximately 1,700 acres. In addition to the damages sought in the original petition, the plaintiffs now also seek: damages sufficient to cover the cost of conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment of all present and yet unidentified pollution and contamination of their property; the cost to restore the property to its pre-polluted original condition; damages for mental anguish and annoyance, discomfort and inconvenience caused by the nuisance created by defendants; land loss and subsidence damages and the cost of backfilling canals and other excavations; damages for loss of use of land and lost profits and income; attorney fees and expenses and damages for evaluation and remediation of any contamination that threatens groundwater. In addition to Gulfport, current defendants include ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, Mobil Exploration & Producing North America Inc., Chevron U.S.A. Inc., The Superior Oil Company, Union Oil Company of California, BP America Production Company, Tempest Oil Company, Inc., ConocoPhillips Company, Continental Oil Company, WM. T. Burton Industries, Inc., Freeport Sulphur Company, Eagle Petroleum Company, U.S. Oil of Louisiana, M&S Oil Company, and Empire Land Corporation, Inc. of Delaware. On January 21, 2011, Gulfport filed a pleading challenging the legal sufficiency of the petitions on several grounds and requesting that they either be dismissed or that plaintiffs be required to amend such petitions. In response to the pleadings filed by Gulfport and similar pleadings filed by other defendants, the plaintiffs filed a third amending petition with exhibits which expands the description of the property at issue, attaches numerous aerial photos and identifies the mineral leases at issue. In response, Gulfport and numerous defendants re-urged their pleadings challenging the legal sufficiency of the petitions. Some of the defendants’ grounds for challenging the plaintiffs’ petitions were heard by the court on May 25, 2011 and were denied. The court signed the written judgment on December 9, 2011. Gulfport noticed its intent to seek supervisory review on December 19, 2011 and the trial court fixed a return date of January 11, 2012 for the filing of the writ application. Gulfport filed its supervisory writ, which was denied by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Gulfport has been active in serving discovery requests and responding to discovery requests from the plaintiffs. A trial date has been set for September 2013, but there can be no assurance that the trial will commence at that time.
Due to the early stages of the LDR and Reed litigation, the outcome is uncertain and management cannot determine the amount of loss, if any, that may result. In each case, management has determined the possibility of loss is remote. However, litigation is inherently uncertain. Adverse decisions in one or more of the above matters could have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition or results of operations and management cannot determine the amount of loss, if any, that may result.
The Company has been named as a defendant in various other lawsuits related to its business. In each such case, management has determined that the possibility of loss is remote. The resolution of these matters is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition or results of operations in future periods.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef