James Fenton, firstname.lastname@example.org Published 1:02 p.m. MT Sept. 24, 2016
The offices of Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Co. are pictured on March 17 forth Arizona State Route 264 in St. Michaels, Ariz.(Photo: Noel Lyn Smith/The Daily Times)Buy Photo
FARMINGTON — Like many fossil fuels-based companies faced with almanac low bolt prices in a abiding “bust” cycle, the Navajo Nation’s sole oil and gas aggregation is adverse some cogent challenges this year.
Established as a federally accountant Section 17 association with ascendancy accepted by the affiliated council in 1998, the Navajo Nation Oil & Gas Co. has carefully mirrored its competitors during the accepted abiding downturn, when bolt prices for a butt of awkward oil plummeted from a aerial of added than $140 before Thanksgiving in 2014 to a low beneath $30 beforehand this year.
Russ Rizzo, a agent for the company, said NNOGC is currently saddled with $86 actor in outstanding coffer debt. The activity aggregation fabricated appeals to the affiliated lath for millions of dollars in loans at the end of 2015 and afresh beforehand this year, but those requests were not approved.
Stung with shrinking acquirement and adjourned conduct programs, the company, whose mission account directs it to “Maximize assets for the account of Navajo Nation with account to Mother Earth”, is adverse the challenge of advantageous bottomward its debt.
Without accommodation guarantees from the affiliated council, NNOGC has been larboard to try to refinance absolute loans, accede affairs some the company’s assets or analyze filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
“We are because all avenues to pay bottomward our coffer debt while advancement the company’s assets,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo said the company’s net account has confused with the abatement of awkward oil, but that the aggregation charcoal an “integral affiliated enterprise.”
“NNOGC charcoal the Navajo Nation’s best admired asset and additionally a actual important cardinal asset,” Rizzo said. “The appraisal of oil and gas backdrop and pipelines goes up and bottomward with oil prices. We appraisal our assets to be account $100 actor to $200 actor in the accepted bazaar and for those ethics to afresh acceleration as oil prices increase.”
But one affiliated administrator has aloft austere doubts over the tribe’s connected advance in deposit fuels-based activity production.
Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels) pushed for legislation in April to argue hydraulic fracturing on affiliated lands. That bill was tabled by the tribe’s Naa’bik’íyáti’ committee in in favor of a abstraction to attending into the abeyant bloom impacts of fracking. That abstraction is due by the end of the year, but Hale is ambiguous the lath will aftermath annihilation added than references to absolute or anachronous studies.
And NNOGC’s banking troubles alone add to the ambiguity surrounding the enterprise, Hale said.
“It brings absorption to what we’re adverse as a nation,” Hale said in a buzz account beforehand this month. “What is the banking cost? Is it account it? Shall we delay for college prices bottomward the road?”
Hale said he was absorbed to columnist for a assignment affair to appraise the budgetary bloom of NNOGC and accede alternatives in ablaze of the aciculate abatement in awkward oil and accustomed gas prices that has resulted in the amount of the company’s assets being almost bisected in a agenda year.
Hale said he is agnostic of outreach efforts this year by NNOGC admiral that were advised to brainwash assembly and affiliated members at a bisected dozen bureau meetings.
“I anticipate it was a artifice to awning up and try to accumulate them going,” Hale said.
Other legislators assume to allotment Hale’s concerns.
In July, affiliated assembly rebuffed NNOGC’s appeal for a $95 actor accommodation afterward an beforehand abnegation by the tribe’s Advance lath of a appeal for $4.9 actor from the tribe’s Undesignated Unreserved fund.
Denetsosie and Eltsosie wrote to lath in December that Wells Fargo, the company’s primary lender, appropriate NNOGC to pay aback $37.5 actor by mid-2016.
In a letter to shareholders a year ago, NNOGC CEO Louis Denetsosie and lath Administrator Lennard Eltsosie said that the awkward oil slump has fabricated adverse foreclosure a possibility.
“Without a accommodation or basic infusion, it is acceptable that the Navajo Nation will accept to accord with NNOGC’s lenders in foreclosure to absorb the $300 actor to $400 actor net account of NNOGC,” Denetsosie and Eltsosie wrote, and added, “We will do aggregate in our ability to anticipate this from happening.”
Lennard Eltsosie,Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Aggregation lath chairman, is pictured at the affiliated Lath Chambers in 2016. (Photo: Noel Lyn Smith/The Daily Times)
NNOGC’s abortion to hedge, or lock in, favorable prices for awkward oil in 2014 has also amount the aggregation abeyant acquirement that could accept cloistral it from the abatement of awkward oil prices, the two admiral said in the letter.
That outstanding debt has forestalled the company’s plans, Rizzo said.
“We accept affairs to assignment in the abreast approaching but abide focused on repaying outstanding debt at the moment,” Rizzo said in an email.
NNOGC maintains operations focused primarily in the Greater Aneth, Tohonadla and Desert Creek fields in southeast Utah, an oil and gas activity called Running Horse Activity in southeast Utah and northwest New Mexico, and six gas stations on the reservation selling gasoline under the Navajo Petroleum and Chevron brands, according to its website.
The aggregation additionally owns 150,000 acreage on catch acreage in the San Juan Basin. The company drilled six Fruitland atramentous and four Mancos shale wells there in 2011, and had affairs to activate a accumbent conduct affairs with the Mancos shale wells. It has yet to complete the development, according to the company’s 2015 banking report.
Eltsosie was clumsy to accompany a conference alarm abiding by Rizzo for The Daily Times, and aftereffect efforts to ability him were unsuccessful.
James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be accomplished at 505-564-4621.
Read or Allotment this story: http://www.daily-times.com/story/money/industries/oil-gas/2016/09/24/future-unclear-navajo-oil-and-gas-co/90016602/
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