Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2019
Commitments And Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  

10.  Contingencies  

Apache Lawsuit.   On December 15, 2014, Apache filed a lawsuit against the Company alleging that W&T breached the joint operating agreement related to, among other things, the abandonment of three deepwater wells in the Mississippi Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico.  A trial court judgment was rendered from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on May 31, 2017 directing the Company to pay Apache $43.2 million, plus $6.3 million in prejudgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs assessed in the judgment.  We filed an appeal of the trial court judgment in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and provided oral arguments in December 2018.    Prior to filing the appeal, in order to stay execution of the judgment, we deposited $49.5 million with the registry of the court in June 2017.  Oral arguments occurred on December 4, 2018, but as the filing date of this Form 10-Q, a decision had not been rendered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  

The deposit of $49.5 million with the registry of the court is recorded in Other assets (long-term) on the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets as of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018.  Although we are appealing the decision, based solely on the decision rendered, we have recorded $49.5 million in Other liabilities (long-term) on the Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets as of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018.

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; however, we disagree with the position taken by the ONRR.  We filed an appeal with the ONRR, which was denied in May 2014.  On June 17, 2014, we filed an appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals (“IBLA”) under the Department of the Interior.  On January 27, 2017, the IBLA affirmed the decision of the ONRR requiring W&T to pay approximately $4.7 million in additional royalties.  We filed a motion for reconsideration of the IBLA decision on March 27, 2017.  Based on a statutory deadline, we filed an appeal of the IBLA decision on July 25, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  We were required to post a bond in the amount of $7.2 million and cash collateral of $6.9 million in order to appeal the IBLA decision.  On December 4, 2018, the IBLA denied our motion for reconsideration.  On February 4, 2019, we filed our first amended complaint.

Royalties-In-Kind (“RIK”).  Under a program of the Minerals Management Service (“MMS”) (a Department of Interior agency and predecessor to the ONRR), royalties must be paid “in-kind” rather than in value from federal leases in the program.  The MMS added to the RIK program our lease at the East Cameron 373 field beginning in November 2001, where in some months we over delivered volumes of natural gas and under delivered volumes of natural gas in other months for royalties owed.  The MMS elected to terminate receiving royalties in-kind in October 2008, causing the imbalance to become fixed for accounting purposes.  The MMS ordered us to pay an amount based on its interpretation of the program and its calculations of amounts owed.  We disagreed with MMS’s interpretations and calculations and filed an appeal with the IBLA, of which the IBLA ruled in MMS’ favor.  We filed an appeal with the District Court of the Western District of Louisiana, who assigned the case to a magistrate to review and issue a ruling, and the District Court upheld the magistrate’s ruling on May 29, 2018.  We filed an appeal on July 24, 2018.  Part of the ruling was in favor of our position and part was in favor of MMS’ position.  Based solely on the District Court’s ruling, we recorded a liability reserve of $2.2 million and $2.1 million as of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018, respectively.  We have appealed the ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the government filed a cross-appeal.  Briefing and oral arguments, if held, are expected to be completed in 2019.        

Royalties – “Unbundling” Initiative.  The ONRR has 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.  For the three months ended March 31, 2019 and 2018, we paid $0.1 million and $0.1 million, respectively, of additional royalties and expect to pay more in the future.  We are not able to determine the range of any additional royalties or, if and when assessed, whether such amounts would be material.

Notices of Proposed Civil Penalty Assessment.  During the three months ended March 31, 2019 and 2018, we did not pay any civil penalties to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) related to Incidents of Noncompliance (“INCs”) at various offshore locations.  We currently have nine open civil penalties issued by the BSEE from INCs, which have not been settled as of the filing date of this Form 10-Q.  The INCs underlying these open civil penalties cite alleged non-compliance with various safety-related requirements and procedures occurring at separate offshore locations on various dates ranging from July 2012 to January 2018.  The proposed civil penalties for these INCs total $7.7 million.  As of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018, we have accrued approximately $3.4 million, which is our best estimate of the final settlements once all appeals have been exhausted.  Our position is that the proposed civil penalties are excessive given the specific facts and circumstances related to these INCs.     

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.