Chairman of Gulf Keystone Petroleum steps aside as company looks to restructure in order to preserve value in the Kurdish north of Iraq. Photo courtesy of Gulf Keystone Petroleum.
LONDON, July 14 (UPI) -- Iraqi-focused energy company Gulf Keystone Petroleum said it appointed a new chairman and was moving ahead with a restructuring option to address debt.
Andrew Simon announced his decision to step down as chairman of the company, opening the door for non-executive director Keith Lough to help steer a $500 million debt conversion proposal. In an outgoing statement, Simon said shareholders and operators in the Kurdish north of Iraq have struggled during an era of lower oil prices, a situation he said was compounded by more than $600 million in debt.
"To address the liquidity and significant leverage situation faced by the company, we have to restructure the balance sheet now," he said in a statement.
The company last year said it was looking for partners or potential buyers as part of a long-term strategic review. It's now reached an agreement with the majority of its creditors and shareholders to restructure its debt obligations. Lower crude oil prices, off about 20 percent from last year, and geopolitical concerns stemming in part from regional terrorism meant the company was "severely impaired."
Gulf Keystone Petroleum, which lists headquarters in London, is focused on developing the Shaikan oil field in the Kurdish north of Iraq. The region has been relatively spared from violence, though exports through Turkey have been severed at times. The company said restructuring would support near-term plans to raise production from 40,000 barrels of oil per day to 55,000 bpd.
Chief Executive Officer Jon Ferrier said restructuring was the best possible option to maintain value in reserves.
"Without the restructuring and the improved liquidity delivered by the transaction, the company cannot avoid insolvency or capture the significant future potential of the Shaikan field," he said.