Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
Notes to Financial Statements  
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Text Block]

11.        Contingencies

Appeal with the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”) In 2009, we recognized allowable reductions of cash payments for royalties owed to the ONRR for transportation of their deepwater production through our subsea pipeline systems. In 2010, the ONRR audited our calculations and support related to this usage fee, and in 2010, we were notified that the ONRR had disallowed approximately $4.7 million of the reductions taken. We recorded a reduction to other revenue in 2010 to reflect this disallowance with the offset to a liability reserve; however, we disagree with the position taken by the ONRR. We filed an appeal with the ONRR, which ultimately led to our posting a bond in the amount of $7.2 million and cash collateral of $6.9 million with the surety in order to appeal the Interior Board of Land Appeals (“IBLA”) decision, of which the cash collateral held by the surety was subsequently returned during the first quarter of 2020. We have continued to pursue our legal rights and, at present, the case is in front of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana where both parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment and opposition briefs. W&T has filed a Reply in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment and the government has in turn filed its Reply brief. With briefing now completed, we are waiting for the district court’s ruling on the merits. In compliance with the ONRR’s request for W&T to periodically increase the surety posted in the appeal to cover pre- and post-judgement interest, the sum of the bond posted is currently $8.2 million.

Royalties – “Unbundling” Initiative In 2016, the ONRR publicly announced an “unbundling” initiative to revise the methodology employed by producers in determining the appropriate allowances for transportation and processing costs that are permitted to be deducted in determining royalties under Federal oil and gas leases. The ONRR’s initiative requires re-computing allowable transportation and processing costs using revised guidance from the ONRR going back 84 months for every gas processing plant that processed our gas. In the second quarter of 2015, pursuant to the initiative, we received requests from the ONRR for additional data regarding our transportation and processing allowances on natural gas production related to a specific processing plant. We also received a preliminary determination notice from the ONRR asserting that our allocation of certain processing costs and plant fuel use at another processing plant was not allowed as deductions in the determination of royalties owed under Federal oil and gas leases. We have submitted revised calculations covering certain plants and time periods to the ONRR. As of the filing date of this Form 10-Q, we have not received a response from the ONRR related to our submissions. These open ONRR unbundling reviews, and any further similar reviews, could ultimately result in an order for payment of additional royalties under our Federal oil and gas leases for current and prior periods. While the amounts paid for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021 and 2020 were immaterial, we are not able to determine the range of any additional royalties or, if and when assessed, whether such amounts would be material.

Civil Penalty Assessments In January 2021, we executed a Settlement Agreement with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) which resolved nine pending civil penalties issued by BSEE. The civil penalties pertained to Incidents of Noncompliance (“INCs”) issued by BSEE alleging regulatory non-compliance at separate offshore locations on various dates between July 2012 and January 2018, with the proposed civil penalty amounts totaling $7.7 million. Under the Settlement Agreement, W&T will pay a total of $720,000 in three annual installments. The first installment was paid in March 2021. In addition, W&T committed to implement a Safety Improvement Plan with various deliverables due over a period ending in 2022. In September 2021, we paid $40,200 related to an INC issued in 2018. Additionally, we were notified of a new proposed civil penalty assessment for $46,000 for an INC that occurred at one of our properties in 2018.

Other Claims We are a party to various pending or threatened claims and complaints seeking damages or other remedies concerning our commercial operations and other matters in the ordinary course of our business. In addition, claims or contingencies may arise related to matters occurring prior to our acquisition of properties or related to matters occurring subsequent to our sale of properties. In certain cases, we have indemnified the sellers of properties we have acquired, and in other cases, we have indemnified the buyers of properties we have sold. We are also subject to federal and state administrative proceedings conducted in the ordinary course of business including matters related to alleged royalty underpayments on certain federal-owned properties. Although we can give no assurance about the outcome of pending legal and federal or state administrative proceedings and the effect such an outcome may have on us, we believe that any ultimate liability resulting from the outcome of such proceedings, to the extent not otherwise provided for or covered by insurance, will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or liquidity.