Commitments And Contingencies
|9 Months Ended|
Sep. 30, 2011
|Commitments And Contingencies [Abstract]|
|Commitments And Contingencies||
Plugging and Abandonment Funds
In connection with the acquisition in 1997 of the remaining 50% interest in the 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 September 30, 2011, the plugging and abandonment trust totaled approximately $3,121,000. At September 30, 2011, the Company had plugged 311 wells at WCBB since it began its plugging program in 1997, which management believes fulfills its current minimum plugging obligation.
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 $1,800,000 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 $2,275,729 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 two years ago until recently when it propounded discovery requests to which Gulfport has responded.
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. Recently, 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.
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. The lawsuit was subsequently removed to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division). The lawsuit alleged RICO violations and several other causes of action relating to Great White's employment of the former Cudd employees and sought unspecified monetary damages and injunctive relief. On stipulation by the parties, the plaintiff's RICO claim was dismissed without prejudice by order of the court on February 14, 2007. Gulfport filed a motion for summary judgment on October 5, 2007. The court entered a final interlocutory judgment in favor of all defendants, including Gulfport, on April 8, 2008. On November 3, 2008, Cudd filed its appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court decision finding, among other things, that the district court should not have entered summary judgment without first allowing more discovery. The case was remanded to the district court, and Cudd filed a motion to remand the case to the original state court, which motion was granted. On February 3, 2010, Cudd filed its second amended petition with the state court (a) alleging that Gulfport conspired with the other defendants to misappropriate, and misappropriated Cudd's trade secrets and caused its employees to breach their fiduciary duties, and (b) seeking unspecified monetary damages. On April 13, 2010, Gulfport's motion to be dismissed from the proceeding for lack of personal jurisdiction was denied. This state court proceeding is in its initial stages. In 2011, the parties have continued with written discovery and production of documents. On February 15, 2011, Cudd filed a third amended petition seeking $26.5 million (based on a report prepared by its expert) plus disgorgement of $6 million in payments by Great White to the individual defendants and punitive damages. Gulfport denies these claims with respect to itself. Recently, the parties began the process of scheduling and taking additional depositions and it is anticipated that the case will remain in the discovery phase for at least the next several months.
On July 30, 2010, six individuals and one limited liability company sued 15 oil and gas companies in Cameron Parish Louisiana for contamination across the surface of 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. 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. As of October 28, 2011, the court had not entered a judgment regarding its ruling. Once it does, the defendants will have 30 days to file a supervisory writ with the apellate court seeking to overturn the lower court's ruling. Many of the defendants' other grounds for challenging the plaintiffs' petitions have yet to be heard by the court. It is anticipated that the discovery phase of this case will become more active in the upcoming months.
Due to the current stages of the above litigation, the outcomes are uncertain and management cannot determine the amount of loss, if any, that may result. 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.
The Company has been named as a defendant in various other litigation matters. The ultimate resolution of these matters is not expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company's financial condition or results of operations for the periods presented in the consolidated financial statements.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef