Gulf of Mexico operator ATP files for bankruptcy

Fri Aug 17, 2012 7:49pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Gulf of Mexico producer ATP Oil & Gas Corp ATPG.O filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, blaming the financial fallout from the deep sea drilling moratorium that followed the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

ATP, which reported total debts of $3.49 billion and assets of $3.64 billion, said it planned to continue operating while restructuring its finances, using $618 million in debtor-in-possession funding.

The Houston-based company said in a filing in Texas court that its development plans and cash flows had been "dramatically impacted" by the deepwater drilling stoppage which continued for many months after the BP Plc (BP.L) well blowout off the Louisiana coast on April 20, 2010.

"While the moratorium adversely affected all companies involved in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the impact was especially profound on ATP, which is a smaller company than its principal competitors, with a heavier concentration of operations in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico," ATP said.

The company said the U.S. government's stoppage blocked its plans to drill and develop six wells in 2010 and 2011, after it spent more than $1 billion on infrastructure construction related to five of them, largely funded by debt.

ATP said its bankruptcy filing was made in order to undertake a "comprehensive financial restructuring."

The company named its top unsecured creditor as marine contractor Bluewater Industries, which is owed $53.8 million in trade debt, followed by subsidiaries of oilfield services companies Nabors Industries Ltd (NBR.N), owed $15.4 million, and Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N), owed $12 million.

As of August 7, the largest shareholders were ATP Chairman T. Paul Bulmahn with 12.1 percent, Aletheia Research & Management Inc with 7.8 percent, BlackRock Inc with 6.2 percent, D.E. Shaw Investment Management LLC with 5.1 percent and The Vanguard Group Inc with 5 percent, according to court documents.

Shares of ATP fell to 19 cents in after-hours trading on Friday, after having closed at about 46 cents. The stock had been trading above $5 in June.

The case is In re ATP Oil & Gas Corporation, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, No. 12-36187.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; editing by Gary Hill, Diane Craft and Carol Bishopric)

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