Exclusive: U.S. gas producer Gulfport Energy explores sale - sources

·1 min read

By David French

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gulfport Energy Corp, a U.S. natural gas exploration and production company which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year, is exploring strategic options including a possible sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Oklahoma City-headquartered company, which has a market value of about $1.6 billion, is working with an investment bank on its options and to help solicit potential acquisition interest, the sources said.

No deal is certain, the sources added, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Gulfport declined to comment.

Gulfport was pushed into bankruptcy last year after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily eviscerated demand for energy and left it unable to pay its debts.

Control of Gulfport was handed in May to its creditors, many of them hedge funds, upon completion of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process which swapped around $1.2 billion of debt for shares in the company.

U.S. natural gas prices spiked to a seven-year high earlier this month, tempting the gas producer to explore a sale.

Gulfport owns 266,000 net acres across the Utica shale basin of Ohio and Oklahoma's SCOOP formation. It estimated in a presentation to investors in August that 90% of its 2021 production will be natural gas, with a further 7% natural gas liquids.

Gulfport is currently seeking to renegotiate two contracts with pipeline companies. Scrapping them could help it save money. The company estimated in the August presentation that annual gross transportation fees could drop 55% to $131 million if both contracts are replaced by cheaper arrangements.

(Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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