Junior oil and gas company Trident Exploration Corp. says it is ceasing operations and will turn over care of its 4,700 wells to the Alberta Energy Regulator.
In a news release, the privately held Calgary-based company says its abandonment and reclamation obligations are estimated to be $329 million and it doesn’t expect any financial recovery for shareholders or unsecured creditors.
It says it terminated 33 employees and 61 contractors on Tuesday.
In the release, the company blames its demise on low natural gas prices and high lease and property tax bills, along with capacity constraints on TransCanada Corp.’s NGTL gas pipeline system.
It says a restructuring and sales process with its lenders failed due to issues it linked to January’s Supreme Court of Canada decision on insolvent Redwater Energy.
The high court ruled that energy companies must fulfil their environmental obligations before paying back creditors in the case of insolvency or bankruptcy, overturning lower court decisions that had favoured bankruptcy law over provincial environmental responsibilities.
“As many have speculated and we have now unfortunately proven, the Redwater decision has had the unintended consequence of intensifying Trident’s financial distress and accelerating unfunded abandoned well obligations,” the company stated.
“Without regulatory collaboration and clarity, Trident is unable to address its near-term liquidity needs and has no financial ability to continue operating. We fear that many other companies may falter without clear, sound policy making post-Redwater.”