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A drill of Whiting Petroleum. Photo: AFP / Stringer/Getty Images

The oil-and-gas producer Whiting Petroleum said Wednesday that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the "severe downturn" in prices stemming from the Saudi-Russia price war and the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The Wall Street Journal notes that Whiting, a substantial producer in North Dakota's prolific shale regions, is the "first sizable fracking company to succumb to the crash in oil prices."

Whiting produced roughly 125,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day in 2019. It has assets in North Dakota, Montana and Colorado.

Where it stands: Whiting, among the companies already under financial strain before the price collapse, announced a proposed restructuring that includes giving certain creditors a 97% stake in the company in exchange for relief on $2.2 billion in debt.

What's next: A number of oil-and-gas companies are under strain as oil prices have collapsed to their lowest levels in roughly two decades.

  • There's an unprecedented drop in global demand as COVID-19 freezes huge amounts of travel and economic activity.
  • "As many as 40% of U.S. oil and gas companies could crater into bankruptcy or distress over the next two years as they grapple with a market crash and the coronavirus outbreak, according to asset manager Pickering Energy Partners LP," per Bloomberg.

Go deeper

45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate retirements could attract GOP troublemakers

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement highlights the twin challenge facing Senate Republicans: finding good replacement candidates and avoiding a pathway for potential troublemakers to join their ranks.

Why it matters: While the midterm elections are supposed to be a boon to the party out of power, the recent run of retirements — which may not be over — is upending that assumption for the GOP in 2022.

Congressional diversity growing - slowly

Data: Brookings Institution and Pew Research Center; Note: No data on Native Americans in Congress before the 107th Congress; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of non-white senators and House members in the 535-seat Congress has been growing steadily in the past several decades — but representation largely lags behind the overall U.S. population.

Why it matters: Non-whites find it harder to break into the power system because of structural barriers such as the need to quit a job to campaign full time for office, as Axios reported in its latest Hard Truths Deep Dive.

Staff for retiring Senate Republicans a K Street prize

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The retirements of high-profile Senate Republicans mean a lot of experienced staffers will soon be seeking new jobs, and Washington lobbying and public affairs firms are eyeing a potential glut of top-notch talent.

Why it matters: Roy Blunt is the fifth Republican dealmaker in the Senate to announce his retirement next year. Staffers left behind who can navigate the upper chamber of Congress will be gold for the city’s influence industry.